Garment Production and Piece-rate Pay

In a piece-rate pay system, workers get paid based on the number of garments they produce. Pay amount = (Number of garments produced x piece rate).

You know, as garment components and unfinished garments move through the garment processes (like cutting to printing, embroidery, stitching, checking, initial finishing, repairing, pressing, final checking, packing etc.) gradually the number of garments reduce. The packing quantity will be lesser compared to the cut quantity. Inside the production line, some garments got damaged or somehow factory loss some garment in the stitching section. Consider factory is capturing correct production data.

In the initial finishing and final finishing stage factory got a different garment quantity which is less than the stitched garments. Further in shipping, we see more reduction in shipped quantity than the packed garments.

Now the question is - to calculate worker’s pay amount for the piece-rate employees, from which stage of the garmenting process, production quantity should be considered.

There are some processes, where workers need to process the same garment multiple times (like pressing, repairing, mending process), in such processes production quantity becomes higher than the actual order quantity and cut quantity. As workers need to spend more time on repeat task on the same garment, their production counted twice for some garments.

Normally, factories maintain a record of issue/receiving garment quantity from one section to another by challan (receipts). They take garment production quantity from those record irrespective of cutting issue quantity to stitching section and garments made by operators. Workers are given payment based on this production quality (number of pieces given to the following process), irrespective of their actual production quantity.

Some factories used barcode-based coupon system for capturing individual operator’s production quantity. And calculate payment according to the production quantity capturing by coupons. In this case, an operation to operation production quantity may vary. This system is more ethical and transparent. You may have a different opinion on this.

Related: Who should count operator's production?

If we go in deep analysis, against each order, factory cuts garments more than the order quantity. Most of the factories cut few extra garments than the order quantity (for the replacement of the damaged garments). Broadly, if we compare three process – cutting quantity, stitching quantity and shipping quantity, factory get paid for the shipping quantities. So, whatever extra garments made and are not shipped, the factory is paying for making and finishing process.

What happens, if a garment factory decides to pay their cutting workers and stitching operators based on shipped quantity? This is not a common practice, but?

Let's take an example,

Order Quantity: 1000 pieces

Cut quantity: 1020 (1000 + 20) with 2% extra cutting

Stitching quantity: 1020. Initial operators in the production line will work on 1020 garments.

Stitching quantity by operators at the end of a line: 1010 pieces (assuming 10 pieces got damaged in stitching section).

When garments reach to the finishing and packing stage, few more garments will be rejected due to quality issue (non-repair-able damages). Let's assume you able to ship 990 garments to your customer.

In this example, how many garments will be considered for paying stitching operators and finishing and packing workers?

When we talk about the piece-rate payment system for the garment industry workers, it seems to WIN-WIN situation to the factory owner and the employees.  But actually not. 

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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