The media continuously focused on the violence unleased on the streets of Bengaluru when recently thousands of garment factory workers of the city protested against the restrictions on provident fund withdrawals. Once the protest got over, the media conveniently forgot the real issues affecting the 8 lakh garment workers in Karnataka. Almost 85 per cent of garment factory are women. Right from low salary packages, long working hours to sexual harassment faced by these women, problems of garment factory workers are galore.
On Saturday (March 23), the members of the Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU) hosted a press meet to tell their side of the story.
While very few lauded the garment factory workers as "brave women" protesting against the Narendra Modi's government "anti-poor" decision to amend the rules governing withdrawal of Employees' Provident Fund contributions, many blamed the poor women for creating chaos and violence on the streets.
Pratibha R, president, GATWU, said garment workers face a lot of problems on a daily basis. Their protest was a culmination of their pent up anger, she added.
However, GATWU president clarified that they were not responsible for the violence. The police also said that violence was started by some anti-social elements to create law and order problem.
"Textile is a global industry, but they don't get the amount that they deserve," said Pratibha.
Jayaram KR, executive member of the union, said the workers get meagre salaries.
"Garment workers get only about Rs 7,000 a month. The sudden outburst of women workers last week was the result of fear that all the money they work for will not be given to them at all," he added.
Vinay Sreenivasan, founder of the Alternative Law Forum (ALF), said that the women workers face a lot of harassment in workplace.