LAHORE: The textile spinning industry across the country remained shut on Wednesday to observe a Black Day against government anti-industry policies with apparel sectors small & medium units remaining operative from Karachi to KPK owing to clash in interest between two textile sub-sectors.

Textile millers kept their mills closed, displayed black banners, flags and buntings besides wearing black bands to lodge their protest. Also, a large number of textile workers held protest marches in front of their mills in connection with the black day. However, the protest remained peaceful throughout the country.

The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Central Chairman Tariq Saud has said that the textile industry has observed a very successful countrywide black day by closing down operations throughout Wednesday.

“It was a successful strike and all the textile mills , including leading groups in spinning and spinning sectors, right from Karachi to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained closed,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Association’s Punjab Chairman Aamir Fayyaz also addressed a press conference on Wednesday after attending the extra ordinary general body meeting.

He said the APTMA management was thankful to all the member mills for responding to its call for observing black day against high cost of doing business and unchecked entry of subsidized goods from India, including yarn, fabric and garments to damage the domestic market.

He also welcomed the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), Multan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI) and Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) leadership at the APTMA Punjab office, who visited to support and join the struggle for the restitution of the viability of textile manufacturing.

“It is highly unfortunate that the current circumstances have forced us to hold black day to mark our protest, as the government is not answering back to our miseries lucidly,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA) announced that it has not observed 14th October as Black Day, as all units of value added sector from Karachi to Pishawar remained open on Wednesday.

All textile industry, excluding spinning sector, in Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan and Sialkot continued their work and did not participate in strike.

PRGMEA Chief Coordinator, Ijaz Khokhar, told the media that whole apparel sector, which mostly consists of small and medium units, remained operative on Wednesday, saying it is not part of shutdown strike of the APTMA.

He said that Pakistan Apparel Federation, including Knitwear Manufacturers Association, Supports wear and Supports goods Association, Towel Manufacturers Association, Hosiery Manufacturers Association, All Pakistan Textile Processing Manufacturers Association, under the banner of PRGMEA strongly oppose any regulatory duty imposed on yarn import and also strongly oppose any barrier on import of fabric for garments export.

The government should keep in mind that Black Day has been observed only by Yarn Manufacturers (Spinners), having just around 350 units, against value added sector, which comprises more than 10,000 units across the country. With regard to employment generation, one spinning unit generates just 5% employment while garment unit creates 95% employment.

"Such an evil activity, at a time when the government is waging war against terrorism, will hurt the GSP plus benefit. At this time we should back the government instead of holding protest and demonstration," he suggested. Moreover, the foreign buyers may hold their orders when they see the industry is on strike.

Pakistan Knitwear and Sweater Exporters Association chairman, Shahzad Azam Khan, observed that the value-added textile sector is not against spinning sector but it wants that whole textile chain be safeguarded because the sector has a tough competition in garments with regional competitors like Bangladesh, China and India.

He said that Knitwear Association, being one of the major value-added stakeholders, is playing pivotal role in earning foreign exchange as well as generating employment opportunities.

Shahzad Azam suggested that import of yarn should be totally tax-free besides the imports of garments and unstitched clothes should be banned, so that the local industry could be boosted.

“Our all associations will strongly oppose any move by the government for imposition of regulatory duty on import of cotton yarn without taking all stakeholders of the textile chain on board.”

Shahzad Azam demanded the liberal import policy for raw materials for re-export like duty-free import of fabrics and accessories same as Bangladesh. Besides improving law and order, and providing non-stop gas and electricity supply, the government would have to relax import policy to empower value-added textile industry to get the maximum benefit of GSP Plus Status, as the country had no raw material except cotton.

Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association North Zone’s newly-elected vice chairman, Abdul Hameed, said that PHMA has also rejected the strike call of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association and its more than 1200 hosiery units remained operative all over the country.

Our mills in Sialkot, Faisalabad, Lahore, Multan and Karachi did not accept the shutdown call of APTMA, as its idea of imposing import duty on yarn would pose negative impact on value-added sector.

Abdul Hameed said that PHMA supports the relief package sought by APTMA particularly easing cost of doing business and relief in power tariff but opposes duty on import of textile raw materials.

“Value-added textile manufacturers have opposed the proposal of banning the import of raw materials, because any such support will be tantamount to signing their death warrant. The value-added sector is heavily dependent on imported raw materials for value addition therefore we have made clear that we will not support the closure of industry.”