Inspection of more than 7,000 garment factories and spinning mills in Tamil Nadu (India) is underway after national human rights watchdog threw light on the adverse working condition in which female garment workers work.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has ordered authorities in the state to act upon the situation. Checks for basic facilities such as toilets and creches for the more than 500,000 workers (mostly female) began in March this year.
“We have found violations and have served notices to more than 200 factories spinning mills so far,” said Kaveri Manoharan, Head, Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health of Tamil Nadu.
The situation came in light when a female worker broke down in tears while explaining scarcity of toilets in her factory on local radio phone-in show – Voice of Rights. Three radio stations, operating in Dindigul, Chennai and Tirupur, broadcasted through mobile phones, give a voice to the thousands of garment workers whose plight has long been ignored by manufacturers and brands.
Callers discuss harassment, long working hours, poor wages and other challenges.
Toilets, drinking water, first aid and special provisions for female workers are the most crucial and primary requirements at the workplaces. There should be one toilet for every 20 employees and a creche where there are 30 women employed.
NHRC said that the denial of basic facilities by factory owners is “a serious violation of human rights”. “In most cases, there were too few toilets and hygiene was also an issue. Also, creches had not been set up even though hundreds of women were employed. We have given managements one month to fix the problem, document it and get back to us,” said Kaveri.
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