In this episode of Behind the Label, Rani, a garment worker, tells her story.
Rani came to Bengaluru from Chennai. Unable to speak the language initially, she found it difficult to communicate and find a job in the city. After a long search, some persons offered to get her a job if she paid them for it. When she did, they found her a job as a factory helper. She gradually learned on the job and decided to stick with it for as long as possible, but when her meagre income remained stagnant, she picked up tailoring and became a tailor.
“In tailoring, there is a lot of pressure. They gradually increase production expectations but increase our salary only by Rs. 300 to Rs. 400 per year. On the home front, rents are very high, so to meet the demands, we end up borrowing money and paying a steep interest.”
Tailoring demands that your body be attached to the sewing machine for up to 8 hours a day. Needless to say, it is an unhealthy work experience. “We get infections and dust allergies, but we don’t get any masks assigned. This is our life at a garments factory.” Health benefits are meagre as well. “We don’t have any ESI facilities. Getting checked for even a fever can take a day. This means skipping work and losing a bit of the salary. So we lose both money and a chance for proper treatment.”
Persistent health problems are common among garment workers. “It will be of great help if the garment factory’s management could provide us basic nutritional foods like bananas, coffee, tea or anything at all to eat now and then.”
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