Garment Industry: Special Exploitation Zone
There are over 1000 garment industries employing over 5 lakh workers (Statistics given by Garment & Textile Workers Union – GATWU). But according to conservative govt. figures there are only 787 units employing 3,55,000 workers out of which 85 – 90% are women. Most of these workers have come from rural areas with many of them even today coming from far off villages to the city to work. It normally takes many of these workers living in distant villages not less than two to two & a half hours to reach their workplaces. For workers traveling from villages of Mandhya & Kolar districts, the workers need to have early start at around 4:30 or 5 in the morning to catch the bus or rail to reach their workplaces.
Many of these workers have to carry their breakfast & lunch to their workplaces. To those unable to carry their tiffin, have no choice but to go to hotels (in the absence of subsidized canteens in their workplaces), which given the current inflationary prices takes away substantial chunk of their wages. The wages for these workers have not changed in a long time & remains very low. To set minimum wage standard, it takes govt. 8 to 9 years which after weighing the pros & the cons, raises the minimum wages by such meager increments, it could be considered as a joke being played on the workers lives. Nor has there been much technological innovations.
The garment workers are being made to work under extremely low wages. In a family of four, it takes a minimum of Rs. 13,000 to run a household (house loans, clothes, food, education, health & miscellaneous). In garment factories in Bangalore, the minimum daily wage earned by the workers is Rs. 121 (Rs. 3630 per month) but have been denied Dearness allowance (DA).
With cut throat competition in the world market, in the name of production targets, these workers have been forced to do more work. Whereas 8 years ago the workers were asked to produce between 40 – 50 piece per day, today the workers are being demanded to produce between 150 to 160 piece per day. How is work possible in the same old machine in the absence of technology innovation?
If the workers are unable to meet the targets, they are either fired from their jobs or abused in derogatory language which is a daily routine & forced to work until they finish which is beyond their mandatory working day. The workers are even humiliated by calling their names over speakers & made to sit without work if the production target is not met.
In the name of production targets, the workers are denied leave & during emergency situation the work is replaced by another worker & the worker is asked to come one week later without any wages to compensate.
- Harassment and torture for increased production must stop.
- There is must be a scientific method and rules to fix the production targets.
- The capacity to work and produce will differ from person to person, (model to a different model) this fundamental fact must be recognized. Pregnant women on production lines must be given less hazardous and less quantity work.
- Garment women workers must have the right to form Work Place Committees as part of their Union Rights,
- Trade Union Rights, Its recognition and the right to negotiation with the management must be implemented
(Statistics Courtesy GATWU)
New Socialist Alternative Bangalore
(Article Translated from Sep-Oct 2010, Dudiyora Horaata)