An emergency meeting of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Punjab has authorised the leadership to decide about closing down the mills in protest against unprecedented electricity and gas load-shedding.
Aptma Punjab Chairman SM Tanveer, at a press conference on Tuesday, said the leadership would take a final decision on an indefinite strike after a meeting with government officials in Islamabad.
“The Punjab-based textile industry is on the verge of collapse as textile exports have already decreased $500 million in the last two months. The members at the meeting are annoyed over unavailability and unaffordability of energy, causing the mills to close down across the province,” he said.
He urged the government to ensure uninterrupted energy supply with 16 hours a day electricity supply and eight hours a day gas supply to the Punjab textile mills. The exemption from outages should be extended to 58 textile mills on independent feeders with a total demand of 150 megawatts.
The meeting, attended by member mills from Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan, pressed the Aptma management to ensure viability and sustainability of the textile industry.
The members expressed fears that if the electricity crisis persisted, they would not be able to purchase cotton crop, which had started arriving in markets throughout the country.
“The investment climate has been affected and the country has been unable to generate exportable surplus to avail of benefits of access to European markets under the GSP Plus facility,” Tanveer said.
The Aptma chairman appealed to the government to save the Punjab textile industry from collapse and save jobs of a 10 million-strong workforce.
“About 10 million direct and indirect workers are associated with the textile industry. Their livelihood as well as that of farmers is at stake. Laying off workers during Ramazan will not be a wise decision, so we will try one more time to negotiate with the government on energy availability and affordability,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2014.