Coimbatore: Members of Citizens Committee and Forum For Protection of Adolescent and Women Workers–Tamil Nadu have placed a charter of demands on behalf of workers in garment units functioning in Tirupur district before the candidates of major political parties in the district. The members requested the candidates raise their voice for their demands in the assembly if voted to power.
The members met candidates belonging to all parties in five constituencies – Tirupur North, Tirupur South, Avinashi, Palladam and Sulur – in the district on Tuesday and explained to them in detail about their demands. These demands were charted out after conducting a two-day workshop for women workers to understand their issues.
Advisor of the forum C Nambi said that even though many political parties had spoken about the measures that they are willing to take for the welfare of the industries if voted to power, none of them had spoken about the labourers even though about five lakh people are working in garment units and another three lakh people are indirectly related to the industries in the district alone.
“That’s why we decided to take up the demands of the garment workers to the political fronts,” he added. About 50% of the workforce are women, while another 25% to 30% of them are adolescent workers.
“Against the average working hours – eight hours – most of the workers of garment units function at least 12 hours a day without overtime and dearness allowance. As there is no direct contact between the employers and employees and most of the times workers were recruited through middlemen, the workers could not avail benefits like PF and ESI and often end up getting the wages that the middlemen wish to give them,” he said.
Pointing out that a significant percentage of migrant labourers are working with garment units, he said that the district administration maintains no register and does not even know how many migrant workers are in the district.
Explaining that about 30 to 40 people are forced to share a bathroom at the garment units during a short interval break, he said that many people especially women stopped taking sufficient water to prevent using the bathroom during the working hours and it, in turn, has taken a huge toll on their health.
Most of the units continue to run their hostels without obtaining proper permission from the government and many of the units still do not have an internal complaints committee to address workplace harassments, he pointed out.