Factories and industries are the backbone of modern economy. In countries like India where the GDP is constantly rising even at the time of inflation and market upheavals, one cannot deny the role of factories in the Indian economy. With the rise of capitalism the number of factories also increases. Factories if managed and administered properly are a great source of income and it not only benefits its owner but everyone related- its shareholders, managers, workers, owner and the nation. All get benefits from the profit of the factory.
The condition and infrastructure facilities of the factories have not been satisfying but now the scenario is changing, with the increasing role of the media and social activists, the government and factory owners are now taking the initiative to improve the factory management and provide better working conditions to workers. There was a time when a factory worker was more like a prisoner and they worked on minimum wages and in extremely poor health conditions but with factory law of 1948 and activities of the Human Rights committee, now the factory owners have incorporated the human element in their factory administration and provide facilities and make plans and policies that facilitate the growth of the factory workers and provide healthy conditions for working.
The era of the early 90’s saw a dawn of liberalization in Indian policies and trade. Factory work was also influenced by this liberalization. The Indian government started promoting Indian trade and industries with the arrival of the trend of liberalization. Since 1992 a process of reforming labor law has been on the go, the authorities are trying their best to remove the hindrances within the law. A commission headed by a parliament member and comprised of the industrialist, law expert and a government official are working for compiling and amending all the existing labor laws and ordinances.
India’s garment industry has been growing rapidly and export has been rising. Though the growth of garment sector is appreciable but the condition of labors working in garment factories is pathetic and to some extent they are forced to work in inhuman conditions. It not only harms their health and well being but such incidences are shameful for a growing country like India.
Cotton and garment industry are the main pillars of the Indian economy and the textile industry provides sustainable growth to Indian export. Every six household in the country is related to the garment industry in one way or another. Retailers from all over the globe are coming to Indian due to its low production cost. Brands like Wal-mart, Tesco and M&S have chosen India for establishing their factories. Although most of the companies are following the labor law and set-up a code of conduct and audit mechanism to ensure good working condition for factory workers but the reality is far from it. Most of the reformative measures and ordinances are active on paper only and factory owners disregard the rules and laws just to earn more percentage of profit.
A research conducted by the Indian Civil Society Organization CIVIDEP and published by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) have revealed the horrifying face of the Indian textile industry.
Low wages: Most of the textile factories pay very less salary to their workers. The daily wages are so less that it is hard for the workers to fulfil the basic needs of their families. Many garment workers have taken loans to supplement their income and are now struggling to repay them.
Excessive work pressure: Due to the increase in the number of orders, factory workers are forced to work more hours and if a factory worker fails to complete his target they are literally persecuted by the factory supervisors.
Overtime: Overtime is no longer voluntary, workers are now forced to work overtime to meet the growing demand of the market. Legally factories are supposed to pay double for overtime but in practice workers are not paid according to the norm.
Insecurity: Factory workers are constantly under the threat of being dismissed. Even a slight human error, failure to achieve targets or reporting late just by few minutes is used as ground for expulsion from the job. Such job insecurity causes great mental pressure to workers and authorities are not willing to change their policies.
Most workers are unaware of the code of conduct and the law. They just follow the instructions from the management.
Most of the factories do not have a union or organization within the factory to support the welfare of labors and if workers get involved in union they are often harassed by the supervisors.
It is the responsibility of the Indian government, factory owners and social activists to bring significant changes in the factory administration and provide healthy and friendly atmosphere to factory workers. They should get better salary, amenities and health benefits for a secure future and a better life.