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Abstract: It’s a known fact that unless and until women are given their rightful place, no society or country can progress. The Tirupur People Forum (TPF), a Non-Government Organisation in Tamil Nadu studied the state of affairs of the women workers in textile industries during 2001 to 2008. Young unmarried women below the poverty line had under gone worst form of exploitation in their working environment and the social activists accuse that this continues unabated. The provisions of Indian Factories Act, The Industrial Disputes Act, Minimum Wages Act and other acts empowering women and children were flouted by various textile industrial owners under the scheme launched by them called “Sumangali Scheme” (Marriage scheme for unmarried girls). This exploitation barring rights and privileges to women employees in textile industry amounts to unfair trade practice and a punishable offence. This is also against the norms of corporate social responsibility. This article / presentation describes the repression of women employee through Sumangali scheme in Tamil Nadu and the mismanagement of human relations legally and morally by the employers.
INTRODUCTION: INDIAN TEXTILE INDUSTRY Developing countries like India keeps a strong linkage between the textiles & clothing industry and other related sectors, both from agricultural and non-agricultural arena. India enjoys a good manpower and cheap skilled labour and thus the export orders bagged by India are high. Textile industry is one of the main pillars holding the Indian Economy. It constitutes about 14 % of industrial production, 20 % of total export earnings, 4% of GDP and direct employment to an estimated 35 million people. India’s entire share in the world textiles trade is still around 3 percent. In TamilNadu, Tirupur plays a pivotal role,
cotton goods and yarn. . it may be inferred that the first three units operate through out the year with both cotton and non-cotton yarns. Tamil Nadu is the fifth largest economy in India and is also a leading state in South India. TAMILNADU Tamil Nadu is traditional home to many natural resources and isan important exporter of.. The State Domestic Product is about Rs. looms and rotors Power-loom Highly decentralized Caters to the fabric requirements Uses both cotton and non cotton yarn Produces both gray and processed fabrics Weaving is the predominant process Hosiery Highly decentralized Caters mainly to inner garments Uses both cotton and non cotton yarn Handloom Highly decentralized Handloom technology is regionalised Operates as household units Knitting is the most predominant process Hand weaving is the predominant process Mainly uses all natural fibres Mainly uses shuttle looms Source: UNIDO – Rangrajan. tanned skin. about 4% of India's total export trade. engineering goods. FDI inflows are exceedingly well in Tamil Nadu. The highlights of the features of Indian Textile Industries are shown below: Table – 1 Special Features of Indian Textile Industry Mill Highly capital Operates in both spinning and weaving Uses both man made and natural fibres Organised sector Spinning in the predominant process Uses spindles. tobacco. It has a total population of 664 million and about 50% are women. leather goods. Dynami City – Case Study of Tirupur From the above. tea.generating as much as 90% of knitted garment exports – in other words. handicrafts and black granite. coffee. spices.ranking fourth among the states in terms of value of FDI investments and second in terms of the number of projects in the pipelines as per the statistics projected by the Government of Tamilnadu. hides.856 billion and current exports are around Rs 153 billion.
33 sq km. 16 panchayat unions. Palladam. 17 town panchayats and 273 village panchayats under its jurisdiction. Table – 2 The population of Tirupur District Total Population Rural area Male Female Under the year of 6 age Literacy rate 76% 19. Kangayam and Udumalpet. Female 69% Fig – 1 Map of Tiruppur District Source – Government of India – Census – 2001 .033 56% 52% 48% 10% Male 82%. The district has one Municipal Corporation. And is spread over a stretch of about 5. six municipalities. The new district has two revenue divisions (Tirupur and Dharapuram).Tirupur is a district formed in October 2008 and the Tirupur town has been announced as a corporation governed by a Mayor. Dharapuram. Avinashi. comprising six taluks namely Tirupur.. Tirupur city is the administrative headquarters of this district.17.106.
Tirupur was usually experiencing 15% growth after abolition of quota and if the decline of10% in 2007. compacting. 11. . embroidery.000/. 9. stitching. reduction of interest rates and refund of state levies and taxes to overcome this situation.950 crores as against Rs. payment of all Service Taxes. There are different units for knitting. It clocked Rs. fabric painting. reverse osmosis system. bleaching. There exist local representative institutions and support bodies that initiate the development of the knitwear sector in Tiruppur. Also the central government launched a Technology Up gradation Fund Schemes (TUFS) to upgrade technology in different segments of textile and jute industries and incentives from Government such as establishment of Power loom Service Center. cutting. Latest technology is used for processing the various elements of garments and the quality achieved is of international standards.08 is included. Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC). calendaring.crores registered in 2006-07. . Knit Cloth Manufacturer’s Association (KCMS) are some of the most important associations operating in Tiruppur extending a trade related help to the entrepreneurs. bridge across the Noyyal River are promoted by the state government. PSGIM (PSG Institute of Management) made a study during the Financial Year 2007-08.Textile Industry in Tiruppur The Garment industry in Tirupur has been developed for decades as a family business. Textile Committee under the Ministry of Textiles. The various associations in Tiruppur demanded the Central Government to remove Fringe Benefit Tax. dyeing. have been extended. Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA). then the total export loss from Tirupur works about 25%. found that the exports from Tirupur declined by 10%. Computer Aided Design Center and Group work shed scheme etc. The South Indian Hosiery Manufacturer’s Association (SIHMA). wind mill power supply. However some infrastructure project for water supply. The various trade associations accuse that the infrastructure that plays an important role in developing the textile industry in Tirupur suffers from infrastructure inadequacy.
JC Penney. forced to scale back or down shutters. Bangladesh. the exporters here are in a quandary. Every competing country – such as Indonesia. Now. Macy’s and Ann Taylor. The Tiruppur Democratic Forum. and the price negotiation is water-tight. The US orders have fallen by 30 to 35 per cent volume-wise. a social organization at Tiruppur conducted surveys and released papers on this scheme and dubbed this scheme as an explicit exploitation of women labour force. among others. between16 to 20 years of age. SUMANGALI SCHEME A decade ago.000 after the completion of contract. The massive fallout within the retail sector in the US and with stores such as WalMart. Its survey revealed the following statistics: Table – 3 Estimated Garment Women workers in Tiruppur District (Important Places) Sl.000 to 50. they have started to compromise on their returns just to keep the plant running and to enable them to service their loans.of women workers . hungry to fetch orders. This scheme provides a minimum of three year’s contract to the girls who are promised a consolidated remuneration of Rs 30. especially poor and unmarried girls. Pakistan or Taiwan – is eager. the owners of textile industries in Coimbatore introduced Sumangali scheme. It is propagated that Sumangali scheme is attractive to young girls.No Panchayat/Municipality Garment Companies Number of companies under Hostel Scheme 1 2 3 4 5 Avinashi Tiruppur Tiruppur Municipality Nallur Velampalayam Total 79 635 707 91 190 1702 31 62 83 8 7 191 8565 13990 7390 1350 1250 32545 Total No.Exporters in this hosiery hub have all along depended on the US market. Exporters were operating on wafer-thin margins.
every year they are entitled to 9 days’ leave with wages. Deepawali (two days). The girls are also entitled to PF/ESI and other benefits. In the 1st. During the training period. 2nd and 3rd year of the contract. Rs 1. Education: 10/12 Std or should know at least to read/write Tamil.300. The typical advertisement issued in the form of pamphlets by some of the mills or hosiery units were recovered by the TDF that read as follows: “Employees Wanted: We are on the look out for young. they will be given a festival bonus. unmarried girls in the age group of 18–20 for 3 years’ work on contract.700 per month. Republic Day. etc. which includes Pongal. Rs 20 per day will deducted for food . May Day. wages will be paid at the rate of Rs 1.000 will be given as assistance for their marriage. The contract term begins on the completion of a 3-month training. August 15. After the successful completion of 3 years. Essential Qualifications: Height: 5 ft 2 inches (155 cm). An extra payment of Rs 200 will be given per month as incentive for taking up extra shifts. respectively. Pooja.No Estimated Garment Women workers under Sumangali Scheme Panchayat/Municipality Garment Companies Number of companies under Sumangali Scheme Total No. that informs 85 per cent of the workers are from Tamil Nadu and 15 per cent from Kerala. October 2.of women workers 1 2 3 4 5 Avinashi Tiruppur Tiruppur Municipality Nallur Velampalayam Total 79 635 707 91 190 1702 12 12 1 0 0 25 5950 2840 100 0 0 8890 Another study was conducted by Social Awareness and Voluntary Education (SAVE). an NGO based in Tiruppur. under government norms.Table – 4 Sl. Besides these.500 and Rs 1. a bulk amount of Rs 25. During Deepawali.
CITU District secretary of Somanur. If. only with their parents. The Work Schedule under Sumangali Scheme: The working schedule for the girls is very highly rigorous.00 am. Before recruitment.30pm. if necessary. Parents should accompany the girls for the interview.Senthil Raj.30am to 4.Safe and secure accommodation is provided in the factory premises itself. where 10-12 girls stayed with their luggage. The girls are less troublesome and are vulnerable.. the girls will be sent home. . Girls are really concerned about the problems faced by their families. The first shift works between 7. by chance. will not create any labour problem and are dedicated to their work. the girl leaves the company. said that the situation of the girls is so pathetic that even the letters they send or receive are screened minutely”. tea is served in the workplace so that the girls do not waste time. an agent gets a minimum of Rs 500 per person. instead." The reason for recruiting the girls is that they are obedient. Another social activist Mr. the girls had to lie down on mats on the floor. Avinashi informed that no tea break is given. a medical check-up of the eyes and fingers will be conducted Interested candidates please contact the Personal/Production Managers at the earliest with their parents.00 pm to 11. No beds were provided. Lady wardens and lady security officers will guard the girls. Outstation candidates will be given their bus fare on submitting their tickets. In the working hours the girls have to face the verbal and sexual abuse from the supervisory level staff. The agents are the intermediaries between the owners and women in the Tirupur Textile industries. an activist with the Centre for Social Education and Development (CSED). The food was neither tasty nor nutritious. and thus the agent becomes the guardian of the girls.000 to the management. They even sacrifice their sleep to work overtime so that they save more money. They had provided 10 ft x 10 ft dark room. This amount is given after the girl puts in 15 days of service.00 pm to 7. the agent will have to pay Rs 1. third shift from 11. Mr. During the training period.00 pm.Saravanakumar. Agents get commission based on the number of women labour they bring to the unit. second shift from 4.
The Sumangali Scheme cannot fulfil the basic norms of industrial welfare acts.300 1–6 months 7–12 months 13–18 months 19–24 months 25–30 months 31–36 months 34. problems related to menstruation cycle and headache are the health disorders found among women.200 1.120 6. mental and physical fatigue. The inspector and other officer appointed on sec 8 are deemed to be a public servant with in the meaning of Indian penal code. health problems related to tiredness.140 1.840 7.260 1. 1948: This act provides special privileges for working women and children.200 26.8 (9)].480 6.100 8.00 38.Table – 6 Period Wages paid under Sumangali Scheme Daily Wages Wages per (Rs) month (Rs) 1.300 –16.200 The social activists of Tiruppur allege that lack of sleep. Safety and .560 8.00 36. Sumangali Scheme under the purview of the Indian Labour Law: Labours laws in India always stood for the welfare of the labour since they are the backbone for every development in the industry. The chief inspectors have to examine the textile premises for the Health. low calorie food and malnutrition.020 1.680 1.00 40.100 42.200 7.00 45.350 Wages during the period (Rs) 6.700 Total earning in 3 years Net Annual Income 42.00 42.00 Food Accommodation and 15 450 16. 1860[sec.Women workers in the Hostel scheme undergo psychological trauma due to the fact that they live in dungeon-like spaces. The labour welfare inspector or inspector of factories have to play a major role in inspecting the factories. The Indian Factories Act.
Coimbatore before the Tamilnadu States Commission for Women and a public hearing was made. Under the Industrial disputes Act. For the relatives of young girls who died while working in the mills. reported on 7th August 2009. The Hindu. A. In addition. and Tiruppur districts go unabated and the government agencies show a deaf year to this serious problem or take a lenient view. He is expected to make provisions for maintenance of health. The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946 provides safeguards against sexual harassment of women workers at their work places. extra wages have to be given for overtime (more then an hour in any day or more then 48 hours in any week). the women workers are entitled for individual and collective action to get redressal of their grievances and also eligible to form a trade union under the Indian Trade Unions Act. which will also be a woman. cleanliness. But unfortunately. A case was filed by one Ms. Focussing primarily on granting compensation and paying salary and contract amounts to women who were allegedly defrauded by the spinning mills under the Sumangali Thittam. in no place the companies or the controlling government agencies performed such activities as per the allegations made by social activists of Tiruppur and Coimbatore. prevention of overcrowding and amenities like lighting. Erode. Under (sec 55). compensation was worked out and notices issued to the owners.00AM and 9. 1926. as follows: The six-member jury took up her case and instructed the mill owners to pay up within a week the amount due.00 PM with the exception of midwives and nurses in hospital and dispensaries.G. it is found that the exploitation of the women in Coimbatore.welfare [sec (11-20)] of the women worker in the textile industry.Shanthi against M/S. Complaints of sexual harassment are to be inquired into by a complaint committee consisting of a woman chairperson and two other members. ventilation. Conclusion: From the above. 1947.Spinning Mills. the public hearing may have just solved the compensation issues of about 40 people. . working women should be given at-least half an hour rest for every 5 hours in the working schedule. under Sec 59. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1970 prohibits a contractor to employ a female worker between 6. drinking water etc.
TDF (Tiruppur Democratic Forum). Rangarajan T. 1970 7. Bibliography: 1. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act. Kerala (2008) . According to information received by the Campaign for the Rights of the Unorganised Workers. A survey report (2007) 9.000 girls and women working in 913 cotton mills in Tamil Nadu. United Nations Industrial Development Organisation 2. Adolescent Dreams Shattered in the lure of Marriage. “ This shows the existence of the draconian Sumangali scheme that exploits the young women against the law of the land and the textile industry of India should condemn and abjure it. 1926 6. Case Study made by Social Awareness and Voluntary Education (SAVE).org 41692. 1947 4. 1948 3.unido. Sumangali System. The Indian Factories Act. The Minimum Wages Act. The Industrial Disputes Act. Case Study on Tiruppur. this is only the tip of the iceberg. a new form of bondage in Tamilnadu. The Hindu dated 7th August 2009 8.. The Indian Trade Unions Act. Case Study No.But. there are over 37. 1948 5.