80 p.c. garment workers come to Bangalore for sheer survival

September 15, 2012 02:57 am | Updated 02:57 am IST - Bangalore:

As much as 80 per cent of garment workers in Bangalore are migrants from villages and tribal hamlets, pushed out because their traditional sources of livelihood have been “systematically destroyed”, says a sample survey report of garment workers conducted by Bangalore University.

The survey conducted by the Allampalli Venkataram Chair on Labour Research of the university, released here on Friday, says that 76.4 per cent among the migrant workers keep visiting their villages, making it a “circulating” labour force that sees urban migration as a “survival strategy”.

The workers mostly come from Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Chickballapur, Kolar, Ramanagaram and Tumkur. Women constituted 72.8 per cent of the workforce.

Caste, class factors

The survey found that most workers belonged to backward classes (63.4 per cent) and were from small and marginal farming families.

They were aged between 21 and 30, a majority educated till Standard 10 or pre-university.

The sample survey, which collated data from 2,000 garment workers, says that the income they earn by working as temporary wage workers “hardly ever enables them to acquire any permanent assets such as housing sites, durable business or any other dependable source of income.”

The survey report by Narayana Chetty, professor and director of the chair, says that a host of issues — casualisation of work, low wages, bad working conditions, high occupational risks, intense work pressure to meet targets and gender discrimination — plague the workers, which has led to high attrition rates and absenteeism.

Health risks

Most workers said that they were increasingly prone to a wide range of health risks. “Their inability to bear the rising cost of healthcare in private hospitals, coupled with sub-standard medical care services provided in the government hospitals,make their health conditions precarious,” says thereport.

However, a majority of those surveyed said that the managements “respond positively” in providing emergency medical care.

As much as 73 per cent of workers surveyed reported difficulty in carrying out work — “increased work pressure” (78.3 per cent) being the most cited reason followed by “under constant pressure to meet hourly targets” (29 per cent).

Wage issue

A majority of workers (90 per cent) said that they earned between Rs. 100 and Rs. 250.

An average monthly salary is about Rs. 5,000, which the study says is “barely sufficient” to meet the minimum basic needs of a family, though it is in compliance with the fixed minimum wages in the State.

It says the minimum wages in Karnataka is far lower than elsewhere and most garment workers are not unionised to demand better wages.

Over half (53.1 per cent) continue to get paid through cash, besides a few benefits.

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