Fouzia Begum, a middle-aged woman, is quite apprehensive these days. Why not, there is a strong reason for her to be. The workshop or ‘Karkhana', which outsources the job of making safety pins to her, is on the verge of closure. She earns around Rs.25-a-day by making safety pins.

“The owner attributes the China-made safety pins for low business and wants to close down the workshop,” informs the middle-aged woman. Rehana Bee, landed in a similar situation a few months ago. Luckily, she got involved in the ‘agarbatti' (incense sticks) making vocation, after the workshop that outsourced her the job, closed down abruptly.

China-made safety pins have spelled a doom for hundreds of women in the areas of Amannagar, Nawab Sahib Kunta, Shaheennagar, Jhirrah and other slum areas of the old city who lived by the jobs outsourced by local manufactures and earned paltry sums to supplement their family income.

Herculean task

The making of safety pin is a herculean task and a single safety pin moves through five to six different households for gaining a final shape. The first stage starts from cutting the wires, to bending it and then affixing the cap and tying it in bunches and then it is given for polishing work.

“More than fifty workshops had closed down. Somehow, I managed to run the trade till now, but now I plan to shut down the business and take some other work,” informs Mohd. Shaker, workshop owner at Tallabkatta.

It is reported that many workshops had shut down after the advent of ‘China-made safety pins'. These are machine-made safety pins and work out to be cheaper to the public and profitable to the shopkeepers and wholesalers.

Around two hundred families lived of the job outsourced by each workshop. Women used to collect the crude material and return it after completion of the assigned task. Each household was perfect in a particular stage of work. On an average, women are paid between Rs.10 to Rs. 24 per kilogram depending on the work.

“The work is done manually using small manual tools,” informs Nikhatunissa, she is the lone person to do the work in her family, while her daughters do hand-embroidery. “In the past all the family members were involved with safety pin making,” adds Nikhat.

Most of the women have switched over to other vocations like agarbatti-making, bangle making, a few work as domestic helpers in houses in their neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, the wages have crashed down in these trades owing to influx of large number of people.