Anusha from Manamathi village off East Coast Road spends nearly 14 hours daily away from home on travel and work at a garment unit in Mahindra City, Chengalpet. After all her effort, she earns merely Rs.3,000 a month, an amount that is not enough to make ends meet.
Several women workers like her have been slogging for long hours in garment and fashion industrial units around the city for meagre salaries. In a bid to draw the attention of the government to their demands for an increase in the minimum wages, members of the Garments and Fashion Workers Union are conducting a postcard campaign.
Nearly three lakh workers, mostly women, are employed in about 5,000 garment units around Chennai. Addressing presspersons here on Wednesday, S. Elizabeth Rani, treasurer of the Union, said she has been working for nine years and earns Rs.4,000 a month.
“I have not had much of a hike in salary. But the cost of essential items has gone up manifold. I am forced to borrow money to meet my daily expenses,” she said.
Members of the Union want the State government to fix the minimum wage of such workers at Rs.10,000 a month. Sujata Mody, president of the Union, said that currently, workers are given daily wages of Rs.130-Rs. 140. The union has been fighting for a revision in wages since 2009. “We obtained an order in 2010 to vacate an interim stay sought by employers not to implement the Minimum Wages Act notification,” she said.
Employers are now forcing workers to resign or rejoin company to avoid giving them hikes. “We are creating awareness among the workers that they would be treated as new employees and lose their previous service and benefits such as provident fund and gratuity,” she said.
On Wednesday, the Labour department officials assured the union members that a draft notification would be released soon on the minimum wages.