Behind the Label: Kantha Mani has Found Peace Neither at Work nor at Home

Kantha Mani, a tailor at a garments factory, is originally from Hassan district of Karnataka. She has been working in this sector for the past 9 years. Initially, she worked as a helper and later, learned to do tailoring work. Kantha Mani says that everyone is treated differently in the garments industry. “In the initial period, I didn’t have any real idea about garments. I joined with the help of a neighbour. She took me to a factory one day, but I wasn’t allowed to enter. She asked me to wait at the door but she never came back. I had to find a phone booth and ring my husband as I had no idea how to get back home. I had to face a few challenges, but I came back to garments. If you don’t know the work, you get treated very badly. I felt like running back to my village after suffering through so much torture at work. Only the thought of my children’s future held me back.

At work, they constantly complain about my work, for no real reason. Earlier, I used to suffer in silence and not talk back. The reasoning always is, you are getting scolded because you are not working well. Whenever a problem arises, they just dump everything in front of us and tell us to finish and only then go home. They do not give us a break for lunch or to use the loo. I have found peace neither with my husband nor at work. In spite of working in the same factory for 9 years, I have not got an ESI card; my husband didn’t allow me to get the card. He says that he will take us to a private hospital only. He has warned me not to get the card.”

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