In this episode of Behind The Label, we are talking about Garment Factories located in Kanakpura.
Mahadevamma works in a factory where proper water facilities do not exist. After lunch, the workers are forced to wash their hands using the very little water that drips out of the taps; there is never enough to wash the dishes. In the restrooms, water supply is on only for half-an-hour in the mornings and half-an-hour in the evenings. “The toilets are so bad that we can’t even enter them but we obviously can’t avoid using them.”
Mahadevamma breaks down when talking about the severe back pain that she has to live with. “When I try to use my ESI benefits, it never works out. The officials are not aware of any of the rights that garment workers are entitled to.” Once, when visiting her mother, Mahadevamma had fallen ill with a high fever. “I was so worried about being kicked out of the job, that I had run out of her house and rejoined work even when ill. I cannot afford to lose my salary.”
These workers have many, basic demands when asked about the changes that would make their lives better. These include a rise in their salaries and a shift in the location of the ESI dispensary to Kanakpura. “We are forced to travel all the way to Ramnagara for it.” Naturally, water should be supplied to them in sufficient amounts. “Initially, we had been told that the van sent to pick us up and drop us back home is free, but we later found out that they have been deducting money from our salaries for it. They had also said that the food will be provided for free, but Rs. 12 is deducted from everyone’s accounts for it, whether you eat or not. A few workers, in fact, are unaware of this deduction and still believe that the lunch is free.”
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