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India: Munnade - grassroots work with workers of the textile industry

About Munnade

Based in Bangalore in the South of India, Munnade is the result of a local initiative by textile workers starting in 2004. For a long time the initiative has been financed by Cividep, an Indian labour rights non-governmental organization (NGO). Since 2011 Munnade is a registered NGO but at the same time works as a union. Munnade has since become an experienced women's rights organization with access to and influence over 25,000 workers.

What does Munnade?

Munnade – which means 'forward march' in the local language Kannada – is familiar with the workings of the textile sector and the problems of the workers, striving to achieve a life of dignity and security for them. As a strong and independent trade union it endeavours to help workers organise themselves, protect labour rights and improve the livelihood of the textile workers.

Munnade organises training, seminars, public programs, large gatherings, demonstrations, campaigns and call for protests - for example, on subjects such as harassment in the workplace, child care and minimum wages.

Munnade also provides consulting on various domestic problems (for example, domestic violence, but also in issues of rent, water and electricity problems).

It has a two pronged approach: as a union Munnade negotiates labour issues, and as women's organization it caters to the issue of additional economic vulnerability and insecurity in women. Many women migrate from villages around Bangalore or even from other states of India to find work in the textile industry. About 90% of these women bear the sole responsibility for their children.

The organization works closely with other social organizations (for example Cividep) in Mysore and its neighbourhood, where most textile factories of Bangalore are based.

Examples of activities and campaigns

  • Campaign for children's rights to improve childcare in the factories
  • Campaign fighting violence against women: triggered by a series of suicides of women workers at the workplace, Munnade mobilizes with street theatre, demonstrations, radio programs, etc.
  • Cultural center for young workers: The center is temporarily accommodated in the rooms of Munnade and offers activities and special support.
  • Training programs for female leaders: Monthly 5 to 7 women are selected and trained for leadership positions within the union.
  • Publication of a newsletter: Six times a year, the newsletter provides a forum for the (female) workers in which they can share their experiences, information and talents.
  • Library, theater and other cultural activities
  • Legal assistance by a lawyer (on Saturdays and Sundays).

Further information

 

Munnade activists with FEMNET Chair Gisela BurckhardtMunnade activists with FEMNET-Chairperson Gisela Burckhardt.


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