By On behalf of CANG, SURESH D, SIMS - July 2016 | E-SOCHARA
Network partners of the Campaign Against Negligence of Girl Child (CANG) framed a set of activities for a five year duration to intervene on the issue of ‘discounted labourers’ across TamilNadu, based on discussions at a state level conference held at Dindigul in August 2014. This followed the release of a study report “Labourers at Discount” and was with reference to its recommendations. The project was supported by Katholische Frauenbewegung Österreichs (KFB), Austria for the period January – December 2015 which has been now extended.
1. Building and networking with ‘Women Work Force’ towards their entitlement and rights
2. Skill development training on labour, labour acts and rights
3. Legal framework defending, petitioning, propaganda building, lobbying with stake holders
4. Interacting with and publishing issues in the mass media
5. Demonstrating safe and secure workplace for women
6. Building a movement towards a “Safe, Secure Workplace for Women” with safety at the work place, work timings, just pay for labour, job security, compensation, and justified relaxations, etc.,
Result Analysis / Progress Analysis:
- Created a platform for women workers to exchange their knowledge and issues by promoting Worker Welfare Groups in each industry or work place.
- Approximately 1500 women workers have formed 120 welfare groups across 10 districts
- Support system consisting of trade union, CBOs, NGOs and advocate team in each district was strengthened.
- Awareness and knowledge on their legal rights, labour law, working environment and culture was enhanced among 3000 workers.
- Established linkages between district NGO networks and state level networks like People’s Health Movement, Campaign Against Child Labour, Tamil Nadu Forum for Crèche and Childcare Services, State Un-organised Union etc., who work for the same cause.
- Engagement with the Labour Department by ensuring participation of Labour Officer and Inspector of Industries.
- Motivation has been maintained and actions have been initiated by the partners as well as workers together through continued follow-up and visits.
- Building confidence/hope among workers was a problem at the beginning; however, through a process of continuous contact and extending support services it was possible to win their confidence, enabling workers to participate in all the activities.
- There was no clarity on building support systems at the beginning. At present all the partners have established contact with trade union leaders, CBOs, NGOs and advocates in each district who are supportive.
- Some of the partners had to be equipped regarding operational and functional issues in resolving strategies.
- Everybody knew that networking is not easy, but was able to succeed by organising meetings of all the partners together every month in different partner organisations, thus helping to coordinate among themselves and facilitate sharing.
- Feeling of collective action generated among partners, and having a feeling of oneness in the team.
- There are still a few things that need to be systematised, such as in follow up, documentation, reporting and advocacy strategy. We believe that in the course of time this will be resolved.
After completion of a couple of years, we have come to a conclusion, and have taken a step forward towards ensuring a ‘Safe Working Place’ in the unorganised sector for women workers. This is possible in the near future. We had a consultation meeting at Ashanivas Centre, Chennai where the State Labour Commissioner participated, with other persons such as Ms. Vasuki, national committee member AIDWA (All India Democratic Women’s Association); Dr. Kalpana, IIT Madras; Ms. Sujatha Modi, activist with the unorganised sector; Mr. Ameerkhan & D Suresh, SOCHARA-CEU; and Dr. Shanmuga Velayutham, TNFORCES.
- It is felt that there is an urgent need to protect certain industries which are endangered like silver anklet manufacturing in Salem district and rice mills in Trichy district
- A violence free working environment to be ensured in all the industries where women are working
- Regular monitoring and dialogue with the workers on their issues by the Labour Officer and the Inspector of Factories to be ensured
- Minimum Wages Act of Government of Tamil Nadu to be strictly enforced.
- Employees welfare provisions guaranteed by the Government of Tamil Nadu under Labour Act to be implemented for the welfare of the women workers
- High rates of labour exploitation are seen in the textile, cotton and garment industries; agents role in recruiting workers to be restricted through close monitoring by the Labour Welfare Officer