But most are cut up about politicians doing nothing for them
The elections have been a boon to the garment workers of Hegganahalli near Peenya on the outskirts of the city. For 43-year-old Renuka N., who works in a garment unit, the brief period spent in canvassing for a candidate, she admits she really does not care about, has fetched her twice what her tedious job brings her.
Some 10,000 garment workers live and work around Hegganahalli, and many women said they took a week off to campaign. Susheelamma (46) said the wages she lost were more than compensated by campaigning. Workers, who usually earned Rs. 150 to Rs. 210 a day, were paid Rs. 350 to Rs. 400 for canvassing for a few hours a day. Men were paid Rs. 500.
“On paid holidays, we got half the day’s wage from the factory and by going for campaigning, we earned extra,” Ms. Susheelamma said, adding that life had not been kind to a large number of garment employees forced to shoulder familial responsibilities.
“For them, the extra income pays for their children’s education,” said T. Leelavathi, general secretary, Bangalore District Garment Workers Union.
On the campaign trail, while canvassing for Govinde Gowda M.B., an Independent candidate contesting in the Dasarahalli constituency, Shobha N. earned Rs. 2,400 at the rate of Rs. 400 a day.
The respite, Venkatalakshmamma (60) said, was not only financial: work on the campaign trail was much lighter. While she puts in eight-hour shifts at the factory, the campaign work required her to only spend two hours each in the morning and in the evening, going from door to door, canvassing for votes and distributing pamphlets. And a breakfast thrown in and an afternoon break don’t hurt either.
Despite the reprieve the election provided them, garment workers appear indifferent to the parties, candidates and the election itself. Lokesh (46), a resident of a working class locality in Peenya 2nd Stage, said: “The parties have not mentioned anything about improving our situation. Sanitation is very poor and drains overflow during the rainy season here. There are no hospitals in the area for emergencies and we have to walk at least 1 km to reach the nearest bus-stop. We have no expectations of change. The situation was the same five years ago.”