They say they work for their children

Monday blues Why thousands of garment factory workers blocked a major Bengaluru road
news Labour Monday, April 18, 2016 - 12:21

A few thousand workers of three major garment factories in Bengaluru blocked the road near their manufacturing units, protesting the government’s decision on withdrawal of provident funds.

Around 9 am on Monday morning, thousands of workers walked out of the units of three garment majors in Bengaluru – Shahi Exports Private Limited, K Mohan and Co Exports Pvt Ltd, units that work for Jockey, and other smaller units such as Kemon, Practex, and Excel.

Update for Tuesday: Garment workers block major Bengaluru roads for second day, police use tear gas on unruly protesters

Bengaluru police tweeted this image on Monday

The workers are protesting against the central government’s decision to set new norms for people who wish to withdraw the full amount from their provident fund accounts. After April 30, people would only be able to withdraw only their contribution and the interest accrued on it, but not the employers’ contribution. Watch video here:

 

The government’s decision was made in February. It is unclear how the protest erupted, but garment factory workers are known to work under poor working conditions and factories in the past have had issues in paying PF contributions to workers.

An employee with Shahi Exports who did not wish to be named, said that the anger against the decision had been simmering for some time and people decided to protest on Monday.

Workers outside K Mohan & Company in the Bommanahalli area of Bengaluru

She said that around 9 am when she reached the unit for work, people had already gathered outside, and were mobilizing people for the protest. She said that workers were going to other units and convincing them to join the protest. She said the protesters were making their way to the nearest EPF office. Some amount of stone pelting had also occurred near the Shahi premises, which include four production units.

“The workers say that they work for their children’s education, and that if they cant withdraw the full PF until they are 58, that money is of little use to them,” she said.

Lalitha, who has been working with Jockey for 18 years, said that they had only been told about it the previous day. “They are telling us that the money will go to our kids when we die.”

“We all come from villages. This is like doing coolie work,” says Siddaraju, who has worked with Shahi Garments for five years. 

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