The rhythm of voices raised for their rights

January 27, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:31 am IST

The 25-member team sang folk tunes to the beat of the ‘thappu’ and staged plays to raise awareness

The 25-member team sang folk tunes to the beat of the ‘thappu’ and staged plays to raise awareness

The percussion beats of a thappu broke the silence in villages on the city’s southern fringes on Monday. A group of women were singing folk tunes to create awareness on a government notification on increased minimum wages for garment factory workers.

The caravan, carrying members of Garment and Fashion Workers Union, made a stop at villages around Chromepet, Chengalpettu and Madurantakam to campaign for the rights of the industry workers. Residents gathered on the streets as K. Anushya and her team sang ‘ Onnu Serunga ’ (be united) to the rhythmic beats of the thappu.

“Some enthusiastic villagers have joined us as we proceed to our next destination,” said Ms. Anushya, who works in a garment unit in Tambaram. The 25-member team also staged plays on different themes, from long hours of work and low wages, to sexual harassment.

Meghna Sukumar of the union said: “Instead of restricting the campaign to speeches, we adopted a lighter note to reach out to young women workers.”

Nearly three lakh workers, mostly women, are employed in over 5,000 garment units around Chennai. Most of them earn around Rs. 4,000 a month. The union president, Sujata Mody, said the campaign was organised to support women who are fighting for an increase in their wages for several years. Several garment units have sought an interim stay on the government notification that fixes Rs. 7,000 as the minimum wage for workers.

A signature campaign was also held and this will be submitted along with a petition to the Chief Minister to implement the notification.

A caravan makes a stop at villages on the fringes of Chennai to campaign for rights of garment industry workers

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