Kar­nataka Polls: Work­ers lose as usual

Apparel Online - - Industry Live -

Four years ago, dur­ing the par­lia­ment elec­tions in May 2014, a pic­ture of ex-CEO of In­fosys and a Congress can­di­date for Ban­ga­lore South con­stituency Nan­dan Nilekani having lunch with gar­ment fac­tory work­ers in a fac­tory can­teen, had caught the imag­i­na­tion of the in­dus­try. The work­ers were hope­ful that their de­mands would be ful­filled. But nei­ther did Nan­dan win his seat, nor did any of the de­mands of the work­ers got ful­filled.

Now four years later, Rahul

Gandhi, Congress Pres­i­dent, also vis­ited a gar­ment fac­tory at Sud­da­gun­tepalya off Ho­sur Road and in­ter­acted with the fac­tory work­ers. Al­though Congress has won 78 seats in Assem­bly elec­tions and will form Govern­ment with JD (S) sup­port, the state’s gar­ment work­ers seem to be at the los­ing end, as usual, as the man­i­festo of po­lit­i­cal par­ties have noth­ing spe­cial for gar­ment work­ers. In­crease in min­i­mum wage and im­prove­ment in their work­ing con­di­tions are the main and long pend­ing is­sues of work­ers. Worker rep­re­sen­ta­tives and union lead­ers be­lieve that own­ers of gar­ment in­dus­try are united, so they will not al­low in­crease in the wages. Ban­ga­lore alone has more than 4 lakh work­ers in around 1,000 fac­to­ries, 70 per cent of whom are women. Be­fore or after election, work­ers are not hope­ful about any party bring­ing in change, as their pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence is not en­cour­ag­ing and they have been ig­nored by all the Gov­ern­ments in the past. As per the law, wages have to be in­creased ev­ery three years at the ear­li­est and max­i­mum be­fore five years. But in the state, in last four decades, there have been only four re­vi­sions, whereas there should have been eight re­vi­sions. In Fe­bru­ary

2018, the State Govern­ment had is­sued a draft no­ti­fi­ca­tion and promised an in­crease of wages from Rs. 8,500 to Rs. 12,250. But in March, the draft no­ti­fi­ca­tion was re­tracted. So ir­re­spec­tive of new or old Govern­ment, work­ers strug­gle is con­tin­u­ing. An­other im­por­tant but pend­ing demand of gar­ment work­ers is trans­porta­tion sup­port at low cost. Indira Sarige bus ser­vice scheme (affordable bus rides for women work­ing in gar­ment fac­to­ries) is still pend­ing as var­i­ous Govern­ment de­part­ments and fac­tory own­ers have not reached at a cost-shar­ing for­mula, ac­cept­able to both.

Rahul Gandhi seen talk­ing to work­ers in a gar­ment fac­tory

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