Thousands of textile workers and plant owners took to the streets last week to protest against gas cuts for the textile industry in the province of Punjab.

The textile workers gathered at Manga-Raiwind Road near Lahore and marched towards the office of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) in Lahore city, where they staged a sit-in.

The move came after SNGPL told the textile industry it is unlikely that gas supplies will be restored in January as it has no obligation to provide gas to the industry during the months of December, January and February.

Mohsin Aziz, central chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), said the gas cuts would have a catastrophic impact on the textile industry, including massive unemployment, losses to cotton growers and a decline of US$$2bn in textile exports by the year-end.

He is urging the government to restore gas supplies to the sector without further delay

Pakistan is in the midst of its worst energy shortage period. Gas supplies for the textile industry have been suspended since 25 December in addition to 6-8 hour daily electricity cuts for the industry.

Around 70% of the textile industry is located in the province of Punjab.