The garment workers in the state of Karnataka which by and large comprises a female population is at loggerheads with the governments at the centre and state as well as the textile unit owners over the payment of wages and other facilities that they have an entitlement to. In fact, the workforce had taken to the streets to protest their cause and the stir had turned violent and yet there have been no takers for their cause.
In recent months the centre had come up with a proposal to amend employee’s provident fund withdrawal rules. The stir which had initiated against poor wages and living conditions intensified with this government move. The centre withdrew the clause but things remain at a standstill when it comes to living conditions and minimum wages.
As things stand Karnataka has 5 lakh garment workers across the state and nearly 80% of these workforce comprise female employees. These employees working in subhuman conditions are neglected by all political parties due to pressure from influential manufacturing barons. To be precise, in Bangalore alone there are some 1,200 factories. Bangalore is a major manufacturing hub. However, despite being present in a metro city solutions are nowhere in sight to their problems such as low wages, gender disparity, and sexual harassment. The female garment employees have complained that none of the political parties have reached out to settle their outstanding issues.
In fact a flash in the pan came in the form of the Congress government in the state promising to raise the minimum wages from INR 7,700 to INR 12.000. However, after a representation of manufacturing units met the government, they canceled their own notification leading the garment workers back to Square A.
Anita Cheria who has been working with the garment factory employees over the years said that though there has been no improvement from the political fronts in their attitude towards the plight of the garment workers in Karnataka, the problems of the garment workers have gained increased visibility in the media and this is a step in the positive direction. Yet there is a long way to go.