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Social Security of Garment Workers in India: An empirical survey of Bengaluru Garment Industry

Part I
It is most common even for those who have studied labour laws to use the term Textile and Garments Industry interchangeably but they are neither substitutes of one another nor synonyms. They as individual terms connote altogether a different meaning. Textile Industry is a wider one which includes Jute, Handlooms, Power looms, silk weaving, Readymade Garments etc.

This paper attempts to discuss about the importance of Textile Industry in Indian Economy and conceptual analysis then it moves on to analyse the Social Security available to Textile Industry workers as a whole along with the practicalities of implementation of such social security laws.

Importance of Textile Industries in India

The textiles sector in India contributes about 14 per cent to industrial production, four per cent to gross domestic product (GDP), and 27 per cent to the country's foreign exchange inflows. It also provides direct employment to over 45 million people, second only to agriculture as an employer. The readymade garment (RMG) sector is one of the largest urban employers in India and is a key driver of the national economy. Over the past two decades, it has transitioned from a largely informal to a largely formal, factory-based industry, highly dependent on labour inputs. The largest RMG manufacturing centres, in Bangalore (Karnataka), Tirupur and Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and the National Capital Region (NCR), have a combined workforce of well over a million women and men. In the southern centres, women predominate while there are more men in the northern NCR. A large proportion of the RMG sector employees are first generation industrial workers, many of whom are internal migrants.[1]

Despite a massive internal market in India, the RMG sector is largely export-oriented, with a significant proportion of production destined for markets in the OECD countries. The sector’s large- and mid-sized manufacturing companies are part of a global value chain. Their business strategies and practices are directly influenced by industry competition, both within India and from other, mainly Asian, countries. Indian manufacturers are bound by national and state labour laws and policies, which differ from those in competitor nations.

Labour is critical to the sector’s current competitiveness and long-term viability. Workers’ skill levels, productivity and motivation, the industry’s ability to attract and retain the right quantity and quality of workers, domestic labour laws and regulations and workers’ living conditions and costs in urban areas, are all critical in the context of a continuously changing economic environment.

Even though the Textile industry yields a lot of economy to the country there is no any specific legislation which deals particularly about the textile industry and its workers. However, the textile industry is governed under Factories Act, 1948. Hence all those working conditions which are prescribed under the Factories Act are applicable to Textile Industry in Toto.

Conceptual Analysis

Before going to touch upon the Social Securities available to Garment Industry Workers we have to look into under which statute this industry will fit into. Here we can start up with the issues like whether Garments Industry is an industry under Industrial Disputes Act or a factory under Factories Act? Another issue is does garments industry is covered under Workmen’s Compensation as well as Employees Provident Fund Act?

· Whether Garment Industry is an industry under ID act.
The definition of term “Industry has been provided under S.2(j) of ID Act. It reads as “Industry” as any business, trade, undertaking, manufacture, or calling of employers and includes any calling, service, employment, handicraft or industrial occupation or avocation of workmen”. As the definition is not much clear we have to understand this concept by the term “Public Utility Service”.

Public Utility Services has been defined under S.2 (n) as -- (i) any railway service 2*[or any transport service for the carriage of passengers or goods by air];
7 4*[(ia) any service in, or in connection with the working of, any major port or dock;]
(ii) any section of an industrial establishment, on the working of which the safety of the establishment or the workmen employed therein depends;
(iii) any postal, telegraph or telephone service;
(iv) any industry which supplies power, light or water to the public;
(v) any system of public conservancy or sanitation; (vi) any industry specified in the 4*[First Schedule] which the appropriate Government may, if satisfied that public emergency or public interest so requires, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be a public utility service for the purposes of this Act, for such period as may be specified in the notification:
Likewise the First Schedule of Industrial Disputes Act under 5th entry includes Cotton as a Public Utility Services.
Hence, it is clear that Garment Industry is an industry under Industrial Disputes Act.

· Whether Garment Industry is a factory under Factories act
The factories act provides for the safety of the workers who are employed under a factory. In order to know whether the health and safety of the Garment Workers are secured under that enactment one must know whether Garment Industry will fall within the definition of “Factory” under Factories Act. According to the Factories Act,1948, a 'factory' means “any premises including the precincts thereof -
(i) whereon ten or more workers are working, or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on, or
(ii) whereon twenty or more workers are working, or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on without the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on; but this does not include a mine subject to the operation of the Mines Act, 1952 , or a mobile unit belonging to the armed forces of the union, a railway running shed or a hotel, restaurant or eating place.”[2] By the glance of the definition it is clear that even Garment factories are also covered under Factories Act and hence their health and safety is guarded under Factories Act.

· Social Security under Employees Provident Fund Act and Workmen Compensation Act.
The foundation of Social Security laws in India are mainly Employees Provident Fund Act and Employees Compensation Act. Garment Industry has been covered under both the enactments. Employees Provident Fund Act, under S.2(e) defines the term Employer as follows, “Employer” means-
(i) In relation to an establishment which is a factory, the owner or occupier of the factory, including the agent of such owner or occupier, the legal representative of a deceased owner or occupier and, where a person has been named as a manager of the factory under clause (f) of sub-section (1) of section 7 of the Factories Act, 1948 (63 of 1948), the person so named; and

(ii) In relation to any other establishment, the person who, or the authority which, has been ultimate control over the affairs of the establishment, and where the said affairs are entrusted to a manager, managing directing or managing agent, such manager, managing director or managing agent. Schedule 1 to the Act provides for list of industries to which Central Provident Fund is applicable and such list have a mention of Textile Industries, which means that the Provident Fund Scheme can be made use of by the workers of Garment Industries.[3]

Employees Compensation Act also protects those Garment workers who suffer from Occupational Diseases. Schedule III of Employees compensation Act recognises the diseases caused due to dust in garment industry as one of the Occupational disease.[4]

4. Myths and Realities of Social Welfare of Workers of Garment industry
Among 1.26 Billion populations in India around 8 million are employed in Garment Industries. But India does not have a specific legislation which exclusively deals with the social security available to the workers of these Industries.

The Social Security for Garment industries have spread over numerical Schemes. Let us examine few of them:
Under this Scheme 100% subsidy has been given for Women Handloom weavers to construct weaving sheds. Till now 1, 71,882 women got the benefit of this scheme. Long with this Seven National Awards has been awarded to women weavers.

The basic objective of this scheme is to provide insurance cover to the power loom weavers in the case of natural death, accidental death as well as partial and permanent disability due to accident. The Premium for this scheme is Rupees 470/- in that the worker contributes only Rupees 80/- and rest all will be contributed by Central Government.

Worker enrolled under this scheme will also be entitled for educational grant of Rs.600/- per child per half year for two children studying in IXth Standard to XIIth standard for a maximum period of 4 years.

The objectives of the Scheme is to provide a safe and secured accommodation for the workforce and ensure better retention of the work force by way of decent accommodation in/vicinity of the textile parks, thereby improving the productivity.

The Scheme target is to create workers’ hostel for approximately 3,750 workers during the balance 12th Five Year Plan period.

The astonishing fact about Ministry of Textiles is that there is less number of schemes for the Social Security or welfare of the worker than that of the schemes for improving Foreign Direct Investment. Even if we have look into study reports conducted by the ministries we find , Study on Enhancing Export Competitiveness, Report on Technological Up gradation Scheme, Short time revival plan for CCIC, Foreign Direct Investment Scenario in Indian textile Industry, Assessing the Prospects of exports for Indian Textile and Clothing Sector etc.

Indian Fact Sheet of Clean Cloth Campaign reveals that the Garment Workers of India are not even paid the minimum wage by the employer and as they are continuously exposed to dust and noises, they badly suffers from asthma, bladder cancer, Hearing loss and skin diseases.[6]

When it comes to health hazard the garment workers are continuously exposed to chemicals, cotton dust and noises. Workers in the textile industry are also exposed to a number of chemicals, especially those engaged in the activities of dyeing, printing and finishing. Chemicals based on benzidine, optical brighteners, solvent sand fixatives, crease-resistance agents releasing formaldehyde, flame retardants that include organ phosphorus and organobromine compounds and antimicrobial agents are used in textile operations.

The workers engaged in the processing and spinning of cotton are exposed to significant amounts of cotton dust. They are also exposed to particles of pesticides and soil. Exposure to cotton dust and other particles leads to respiratory disorders among the textile workers. The fatal disease of byssinosis commonly known as brown lung is caused among people working in the textile industry on account of excessive exposure to cotton dust. The symptoms of this disease include tightening of the chest, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. High levels of noise have been observed in most of the units engaged in the textile industry, particularly those in developing countries. In the long run, exposure to high noise levels has been known to damage the eardrum and cause hearing loss.[7]

5. Conclusion.
Though there are many health hazards exists in Textile Industry not even a minimum concern has been shown on the part of Government to safeguard the health of such workers. By the attitude of the Ministry of Textiles of India it is clear that it is more capital oriented than that of welfare of the workers. It is evident that Textile Industry yields more profit as well as foreign exchange for India hence to boost the productivity one must also concentrate on the protection and welfare of the labour. Merely concentrating on the capital investment without giving any incentives and safeguards to the workers yields zero results.

Part –II
Empirical research about the social security schemes available to Garment Workers in Bangalore

As it was already discussed Garments Industry is one of the industries which fall under the domain of textile industries. In this research the researcher has taken the Garment Industry as a universe of the study. The main object behind taking Garment Industry as a universe of the study is that, among all other Textile Industries it is Garment industry who yields more profits and contributes for Foreign exchange flows. And Garment Industry is that industry which employs more number of women skilled workers. Over two decades the Garment Industry had moved from unorganized to organized sector. And most of the workers in Garment Industry are mostly illiterate. Hence the researcher thought to have a survey as to their safeguard by adequate social security measures.

This research study conducted by the researcher has undertaken in Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd. situated in Peenya Industrial Area, Bengaluru. The meets and bounds of this research study is that, it only concentrates about the Women or female married workmen of the industry but does covers all sorts of workers from Floater to helper. However the researcher did not confined her to a particular age of people hence wide range of people are covered under the study. The researcher has collected only three classes of information for the purpose of study namely,
(i) Personal Information
(ii) Work Related Information and
(iii) Benefits available to the workers.

3. Hypothesis
The Hypothesis is a hunch as to the existence of a thing. The Hypothesis with which the researcher started her research is,
(i) Garment Workers are not adequately safeguarded by Social Security measures.
(ii) The employer in Garment Industry will provide at least minimum wages to his workers.
(iii) The Garment workers are exposed to health hazards in the place of work.
At the end the researcher will test her hypothesises and try to arrive at a proper conclusion.

4. Research Objectives.
The objectives with which the Researcher began her research are,
1. To know whether the working class of Textile industry are aware about the benefits provided to them by Government through various schemes.
2. To know the working hours of textile industry workers and their pay for overtime work.
3. To understand the implementation of social security schemes like Provident Fund, Employee’s insurance and other facilities are properly provided to the worker’s in textile industry.
4. To learn about the health hazards of workers of Textile Industry.
5. To perceive the Trade Union activities of the Workers of textile industry.

5. Methodology adopted.
The research methodology which has been adopted in Survey Method. The universe of the research is Garment Industry workers and the sample which was taken for the research is women workers of a garment by name Sahi Exports. The research has been conducted by way of Questionnaire.[8] The Questionnaire was of written form and was directly administered to the respondents. As most of the respondents were illiterate sometimes the response was noted down by the researcher herself and has taken the signature of the respondents. Among those questions administered few were open ended questions and few were close ended.

6. Findings of the research.
In order to seek the desired results in accordance with the objectives of the research, the researcher has found out the below results:

1. Age.
Among 24 respondents 10 are of 30-35 years of age, 11 are 36-40 years of age, 3 are of 41-45 years of age.

2. Education.
Among 24 respondents, 6 are illiterates, 10 have studies 7th standard and above but haven’t completed SSLC, 5 have completed SSLC and only 3 have completed PUC.

3. Awareness about benefits available to the workers.
The researcher has made a separate class of questions to know whether the workers are aware about the benefits available to them. As per the response collected, except Provident Fund and Employees Insurance they are not aware about any other benefits. And they have been provided transport facility that too on payment of some of money and such money will be deducted from their salary directly.

4. Working hours and pay for overtime work.
The main object behind knowing this fact is that under Factories Act it has been provided that the maximum working hour must be 8 hours and there are plethora of Supreme Court rulings that working without pay for more than 8 hour amounts to bonded labour and hence violates Art.23 of the Constitution. As per the response recorded they work for 8 hours per day and there is no overtime work. It was so astonishing that they don’t have a paid leave. If they want to remain a half day absent then also a sum of money will be deducted from their salary.

5. Implementation of social security schemes like Provident Fund, Employee’s insurance and other facilities are properly provided to the worker’s in textile industry.

The object 1 seems to be similar to that of this object but this object serves a different purpose. In earlier object researcher wanted to know about the awareness of workers but here the researcher is concentrating upon the implementation. First the researcher explained the workers about the existing schemes of which benefits can be taken but unfortunately they were not aware of any of such schemes. Only ESI Act and EPF were strictly complied by the employer. And further the researcher asked the respondents as to whether any workshops has been conducted by the employer or trade union as to make them aware about their rights. Respondents answered negatively to the question.

6. Health hazards of workers.
Among 24 respondents 14 suffers from various health issues.

Asthma and breathing Problems are the main health problems faced by the workers of that industry. The employer had provided them masks in order to stay safe from the dust but the respondents complained that the masks are of little low quality and they feel suffocated to wear them all the time.

7. Trade Union activities of the Workers.
The respondents are not the members of any Trade Union. The researcher asked the reason for remaining outside the trade union, the respondents told they get tired by working 8 hour per day and as they are married again they have to go back to home and cook food there so they don’t have time for such things. Most of the workers replied that it is peaceful to not to be a member of any trade union, they are getting paid for whatever they are doing now and that is enough for them.

7. Conclusion
Here we will be testing the Hypothesis. The first hypothesis states that Garment Workers are not adequately safeguarded by Social Security measures. To this the findings of the study reveals that the implementation of existing social securities has been carried out in well manner but there is need for securing the health of the garment workers in better way. The second Hypothesis was the employer in Garment Industry will provide at least minimum wages to his workers. The survey witnessed that this Hypothesis proved affirmative. The employer is paying minimum wages for his workers. In support of this the researcher has collected a sample of Salary Slip of the workers[9]. The third Hypothesis was the Garment workers are exposed to health hazards in the place of work. This Hypothesis proved affirmative. The garment workers are exposed to mainly Asthma, breathing Problem, air crack in legs and hands, swelling of hands etc.

1. To understand the economic and social status of the workers of textile industry.
2. To know whether the working class of Textile industry are aware about the benefits provided to them by Government through various schemes.
3. To know the working hours of textile industry workers and their pay for overtime work.
4. To understand the implementation of social security schemes like Provident Fund, Employee’s insurance and other facilities are properly provided to the worker’s in textile industry.
5. To learn about the health hazards of workers of Textile Industry.
6. To perceive the Trade Union activities of the Workers of textile industry.

I. Personal Information.
1. Name:
2. Age: 3. Education:
3. Marital Status: 4. Children (if any):
5. Salary: 6. Address:

II. Work Related Information.
1. Years of working: 2. Are you a contract worker?
2.1. If yes. Terms of contract:
3. Working hours: 4. Overtime period:
5. Pay for overtime: 6. leaves available:
7. Health Problems:

III. Benefits
1. Infrastructure
1.1. Toilets 1.2. Canteen
1.3. Mother Care rooms 1.4. Ladies Restrooms
2. Transport Facility:
3. Provident Fund:
4. Employee’s Insurance:

[1] Fundamentals: Insights into working conditions in India’s garment industry, International Labour Office, Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FUNDAMENTALS) - Geneva: ILO, 2015
ISBN: 978-92-2-129808-3 (Print); 978-92-2-129809-0 (Web PDF), accessed on : 26.02.2019, at 5.00 pm.
[2] S.2(m) of Fcatories Act ,1948.
[3] notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Labour No. G. S. R. 1295 dated the 23rd November 1974.
[4] Part B, subject 18 covers Asthma caused by dust.
[5] See Annexure.
[6] See Annexure no.2.
[7] Neelam Singh, Safety and health issues in workers in clothing and textile industries, International Journal of Home Science 2016; 2(3): 38-40.
[8] See annexure.
[9] Annexure

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