Forced to resign, PF not paid, Bengaluru garment factory workers fight for their rights

The workers also allege that the factory used to pay their salaries late and women workers were sexually harassed by managers.
Forced to resign, PF not paid, Bengaluru garment factory workers fight for their rights
Forced to resign, PF not paid, Bengaluru garment factory workers fight for their rights
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Around 600 workers at the Shashikar Garment Factory in Peenya were recently forced to resign without prior notice. The workers now allege that the management is not returning their Provident Fund.

The management had experienced huge losses and hence the factory was shut down on April 13.

Raju, an activist associated with the workers of the factory, told TNM that even before the factory shut down, the management did not pay the workers on time.

“The workers would receive their wages two months later. They had appealed to the manager, Krishnamurthy, who refused to agree to their demands of timely payment. They receive a minimal amount of Rs 301 as daily wages. The Department of Labour had suggested an increase of Rs 12.50, but this was not fulfilled either. They do not receive any benefits mentioned in the 7th pay commission, which was approved by the Karnataka government,” Raju says.

Besides delay in the receipt of salary, the workers allege that the managers at the factory sexually harassed women workers.

“Women workers are sexually harassed. Managers and supervisors call them privately and touch them inappropriately. They are tortured if they do not agree to it and are told to produce more garments in less time. The organisation does not have a proper internal complaints committee in place. Workers do not want to speak about the sexual harassment and torture due to fear of management wrath,” Raju claims.

Distraught by the treatment doled out to them, the workers approached the Deputy Labour Commissioner and protested outside the Karmika Bhavan in the city on April 17.

“The workers approached me on April 20. After multiple requests and protests, the company paid them their salary, but the workers have not received their Provident Fund settlement. A meeting with the representatives of the workers and factory management was arranged at my office on April 25. But the management authorities did not attend the meeting and refused to answer my calls,” Venkatesh Shindihatti, Deputy Labour Commissioner, told TNM.

According to the Deputy Labour Commissioner, the management had earlier agreed to accommodate the workers in another unit of the factory.

“The factory has four units. Initially the management agreed to accommodate the workers in the first unit. However, they changed this decision and later mentioned that they would reopen the second unit and allow workers to work for less pay. I sent my officers to seek the latest details and was informed that the second unit has not yet commenced operations, nor have the workers been given any compensation in the form of employment in the first unit or their Provident Fund,” Shindihatti added.

The third and fourth units of the factory were also shut down a few months ago. This is not just one case of garment factory workers in the city. In November last year, 500 workers at the Shahi Exports factory in the Kaggalipura area were forced to resign due to similar reasons.

“The jobs of garment workers in Bengaluru are under threat due to ill-treatment by management, financial losses and sexual harassment at the workplace. Additionally, the working conditions are bad. They are forced to work for long hours without time for food or water and without proper sanitation. Management does not follow the Labour laws. Their concerns need to be addressed,” Raju says. 

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