Special Correspondent

Leaders asked about job losses in garment factories

Domestic help, anganwadi workers want better deal

BANGALORE: “During the 2008 Assembly elections in Karnataka, supervisors and managers in many garment factories had connived with political party leaders and prevailed upon women workers there to vote a party. But the fate of workers has only got worse since, and the five lakh workers of the industry are not on the agenda of any party today,” said Soubhagya, a garment worker.

She was among the organised and unorganised sector women workers who demanded to know from political party leaders how they would represent their interests if voted to power at an interactive session organised by Janavadi Mahila Sanghatane here on Wednesday. The event was attended by domestic helps, anganwadi workers, bank and insurance employees.

“The homes of ministers and chief ministers will not run without us, but we are not even recognised as workers by any government,” said Lakshmi, a domestic help, demanding laws that recognise their rights as workers.

Leelavathi P. said that anganwadi workers were denied pension and other retirement benefits although they play a crucial role in the welfare of every child in the country.

Sadhya Atavale and Geetha, bank and insurance sector workers, said that economic liberalisation policies had struck at the root of the country’s financial stability.

Katyayini Chamaraj from Civic, a non-governmental organisation which has worked on food security issues, argued for universalisation of the public distribution system.

K.S. Vimala, State president of Janawadi Mahila Sanghatane, spoke about the failure of successive governments to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in the Legislature.

Ramachandrappa from Congress, V.J.K. Nair from Communist Party of India (Marxist), M.C. Venkatram from Communist Party of India, Ramesh Babu from Janata Dal (Secular) and Chikkanna from Bahujan Samaj Party responded to these issues.

BJP leader and minister D.H. Shankaramurthy did not turn up.