India's beleaguered garment export industry is trying every possible move to ward off the crisis caused by the sharp appreciation of the Indian rupee, which has risen by 12% since January.

This includes proposed changes to the country's labour laws that currently make the sacking of factory employees almost impossible.

As a result, the central government's ministry of textiles has proposed amendments in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, that could ease the restrictions exclusively for textile exporting units providing a minimum employment guarantee of 100 days per year.

It also calls for an increase in maximum working hours from 48 to 60 per week and an unspecified increase in the notice period of 45 days before a strike.

Damodaran Karthikeyan Nair, secretary general of the confederation of Indian Textile Industry, told just-style that, in the face of huge job losses, labour unions were prepared to agree to these reforms.

However the Congress-led government is dependent on communist MPs - who are opposed to labour reforms and have prompted the confederation to delay pressing its proposals.

"Government has more serious worries about its own survival, so I would like to let the heat die down before opening this front," said Nair.

By Raghavendra Verma.