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India: Important facts and figures about India and its textile sector

Population (2014):                                         1,267,401,849 billion
Garment – export percentage (2014):            14%
Number of textile manufactures (2010):         aprox. 36.175
Employees in the garment industry (2014):    about 45 – 60 million[1]; over 80 % women
Wage Floor (2013):                                         differs from State to State –
                                                                       Bangalore: 5915 R (71,07 euros)/month,
                                                                      Tirupur: 7310 R (87,88 euros)/month
Living wage estimated by Asia
Floor Wage (2013):    
                                    16,240 R (195,3 euros)

 

The Indian Textile Sector

The textile sector of India is one of the biggest producers of garments for western countries. The city Bangalore produces the second most garments in India and the garment workers from there are known for their high quality work. Other important industrial locations are Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

Bangalore's garment industry developed 40 years ago. The textile sector provides after the agricultural sector most of all working places and also a high amount of currency import. The factories in Bangalore were characterized by:

  • all production processes take place in one place (from the cutting to the packing of the ready made clothes)
  • 1000 people work in a factory in average
  • there are only few temporary employees

After the “Multi Fiber Arrangement” (MFA) ran out in 2004, which restricted the export of clothes to the western world for Asian countries and provided therefore protection for European garment productions against low-cost products, the export of clothes from Bangalore to the US or to Europe increased substantially. Because of this development a lot of women came from rural areas to Bangalore searching for a job in the garment industry.

These first female workers – around 90% of all workers are women – are not yet aware of their working rights, their right to unionize or the need to bargain with their employers. So it is difficult for them to fight for their rights together as they dodn't know how. That's where Munnade, a trade union specialized for women, starts to work.

Recent Developments

The competitive and cost pressure among the factories in India has a strong effect on the employees. Because of some criticism on the working conditions in the garment industry from western consumers some factory owners added “Corporate social Responsibility” to their agenda and now they have to pass social audits which check the working conditions in their factories. Unfortunately these controls do not really lead to an improvement: most of the employers still don't allow trade unions or any other kind of unification. Many workers do not even get the floor wage, determined by the government.

At the same time garment workers have to handle a massive work quota in order to keep a deadline. Overtime or a sick day are mostly still not paid and harassment often happens.

The Sumangali Scheme

The Sumangali Scheme is a hiring method and some kind of forced labour and sometimes even child labour. Sumangali means “happily married women”. Although forbidden in India, this scheme is practised in the Indian industry, first and foremost by the garment industry. The factories, using this scheme, hire girls or young women on a contract for three to five years after which they are said to get paid a lump sum in order to use it for dowry.

Once hired on contract, these girls move into a company-controlled compound. The compounds are kept under surveillance, and they are rarely permitted to leave and have little contact with their families. The girls are expected to work 12-hour shifts six days a week, and sometimes additional night shifts or overtime and are paid low wages. Only few girls obtain the bonus, as most of them are injured or become ill and are fired, or quit in advance. It happens quite often that the girls get fired, when they approach the employment duration for the bonus such as for contacting union activists.


Sources:

[1]   http://www.ibef.org/industry/textiles.aspx
other figures by: http://lohnzumleben.de/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Dossier_Indien_Detusch.pdf : 6 Million

 


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