The workers fear they will lose their jobs after their unit closes but company says they will be reallocated to other units.

Union alleges workers forced to resign in Bengaluru garment factory company deniesFIle image
news Protests Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 17:31

Many of the world’s biggest garment brands have their products made in Bengaluru before they are shipped out of the city with the respective brand names/logos etched on them. These factories also provide employment to a large number of people, most of whom are women.

But allegations of the workers being mistreated reappear in the media from time to time with incidents of protests by the workers.

In the latest such incident, 500 workers employed at the Shahi Exports factory in Bengaluru’s Kaggalipura (off Kanakpura Road) have been protesting against the management since November 10. They fear they will lose their jobs after hearing that the factory will be shut down without any prior notice.

The workers had started protesting inside the factory premises after some of the factory hardware was being shifted out and the workers were informally told that the unit would be closed.

Speaking to TNM, Pratibha, a worker in the factory and a union leader, said, “Their intention is to close the factory from the past two-three months, but the workers were not told about the same. This is illegal. They have to take permission from the government to close a unit.”

 A majority of the workers are women, and come from Ramanagara and Maddur. Pratibha alleges that in order to force the workers to quit, the management had stopped providing them pick and drop services.

After four days of relentless protests, the management on Tuesday sought two days to look into their demands after which the workers had called off the protests.

The company has 42 units in Karnataka alone and this unit used to employ close to 1,000 workers. The company has factories in other parts of the country as well as shopfloors in Faridabad, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The company claims to employ 1 lakh workers.

Poovaiah, General Manager (Human Resources) of the company, said that they felt that this particular unit was becoming unprofitable and hence it was to be closed down. The same was communicated to the workers. He said workers will be transferred to other units and all laws will be followed. 

“Due to some business reasons, we have to rationalise our resources. The capacity was 1,500 initially. But unfortunately, we did not find it viable. The workers themselves understood as in the last six months they sometimes have had to sit idle,” Poovaiah told TNM.

“The management decided to shut down this unit. But we took care of our primary stakeholders – the employees. We told them that they will be reallocated to other units with the existing benefits. And most of them agreed to that,” he added.

The workers were told informally that they would be shifted to another factory at Bommanahalli. Pratibha said, “We have demanded that the transportation service be re-introduced and the work day be decreased by one hour as workers have to travel an additional 20-25 kms.”

However, the management denied these allegations saying that the current crisis was manufactured by “some outsiders” who instigated the workers.

About the protest, Poovaiah said that some of the workers did not agree to it. “We tried to discuss their problems but some outsiders entered the factory and instigated the workers to launch a protest,” he said.

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