Hyderabad: Over 800 female garment workers in Indian Designs Exports Private Ltd in Parigi mandal near Hindupur town in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district have boycotted their work and launched an indefinite strike demanding an increase in minimum wages as they were being paid as low as Rs 6,000 per month as their wages. The workers are also alleging harassment by the management amid exploitative working conditions.
The workers are outraged against the below minimum wages and launched the protest for claiming their rights, said Venkatesh, Anantapur district secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the trade union supporting the cause of the workers. He said that there has been no increase in wages for the last seven years.
“Of the Rs 6,000 salary they get per month, workers have to pay Rs 700 to Rs 1,500 for their transport charges depending on the distance of their villages from the company,” he added.
According to the representation submitted to the general manager of the production unit, the workers main demands include increase in salaries by Rs 5,000 (that is at least a minimum salary of Rs 11,000 per month); to provide transportation allowances; to stop harassment of female workers; free canteen facility; to provide bonuses on time; to reduce workload; and to provide ESI allowances.
“The management makes cuts in bonuses if workers are late by even a few minutes or take one day extra leave from work. Many women are working for the livelihood of their families at the cost of their self respect as the management harasses them without any reasons,” said a female worker on condition of anonymity.
Indian Designs Exports Private Ltd (ID) is an apparel manufacturing company with 14 units located in South India and Bangladesh. According to the company’s website, ID is a preferred vendor to well-known companies around the world.
“The Company’s turnover for 2018-19 stands at US$ 140 Million. With all the new infrastructure additions, the company plans to double its turnover by the turn of the year 2021,” states the company’s profile.
CITU state General Secretary M A Gafoor said that the unrest among garment and textiles workers in Anantapur has been growing as they are paid lower wages compared to workers in the bordering state of Karnataka.
“It is exploitative that the export oriented apparel companies make huge profits in international markets out of workers’ labour but pay wages as low as Rs 6,000 per month,” he added.
According to the company, the Hindupur unit produces 2,63,935 apparel pieces per month.
In October, about 4,000 textile workers, 90% of whom are women working in three units of Texport Industries Private Ltd in Thumakunta of Hindupur in Anantapur district held a week-long protest demanding enhancement of minimum wages.