Calling for regulation of Sumangali or camp labour scheme that provides work for young women in spinning and garment factories, a regional consultation of NGOs and civil societies working in the field, has appealed for monitoring committee by the labour department to periodically visit companies to ensure compliance with standards of International Labour Organisation.
The scheme has come under the scanner with allegations of poor living conditions, excessive work hours, less wages, and sexual harassment of young girls linked with the scheme, said Antony Stephen, spokesperson for READ Foundation, Pudukottai, that organised a consultation with 35 participants from Pudukottai, Sivagangai, Ramanathapuram, and Thanjavur representing NGOs, trade unions, and academic representatives. The discussion apprised the organisations on how to provide a fair picture of the working conditions and ensure that girls are equipped to handle issues at the workplace. Young girls, particularly dropouts and members of Dalit communities are targeted by the agents who recruit them for commission from companies, said Ramadoss, director, READ Foundation, in his introductory remark. Regular medical check up and insurance scheme for the young girls should be initiated by the social welfare department, he felt.
The civil society organisations will assist in organising young girls at the panchayat level and ensure they are registered with the panchayat. Village Education Committee (VEC) at the panchayat level should ensure education for all children up to 18 and maintain a list of dropouts, the meet demanded.
The organisations would also identify alternative employment and impart skill-based training for girls who left the scheme midway. The consultative meet demanded that National Skill Development Mission should make employment opportunities viable for adolescent girls by providing skill-based courses.
Gayathri, researcher from Centre for Women Studies, Bharathidasan University, spoke about psycho-social problems faced by young girls enrolled under the scheme. Senior lawyer Martin, dwelt on legal issues such as ensuring minimum wages and social security laws applicable to these girls. Giaudeen, district secretary, CITU, and U.Jeevadasan, state committee member, presided.