CHENNAI: Over two-and-half lakh young girls, are yet to be rescued from being bonded labourers in 2,218 textile mills in and around Coimbatore and Tiruppur, according to Karuppusamy director of Rights Education and Development Centre (READ), an NGO based at Erode. He was speaking at a recent workshop conducted by READ, in collaboration with the Tiruppur People’s Forum for Protection of Environment and Labour Rights, to educate them on what to watch out for.
According to Karuppusamy, these girls are taken in as apprentice workers under the supposedly scrapped ‘Sumangali Scheme’. Mostly aged between 15 and 18, they are recruited as camp workers for a period of three years. Prior to the recruitment, they were promised `40,000, but at the end of the training, they were paid significantly less. Also, the girls are coerced to work in unsafe environments. “In such places, the women are physically injured. Some even die,” he stated.
Speaking on similar lines, Aloysius A, director of SAVE, an NGO from Tiruppur said that these girls are paid around `150 as wages, significantly lower than the salary — `238, stipulated by the government order (GO 68). He added that, even with committees set up by the government to monitor the activity of textile mills in 11 districts, reports from only two districts were furnished. “The women labourers lack knowledge on their rights and this helps their employers exploit them further,” he added. “The main aim of this workshop is to educate the young girls against the Sumangali scheme.”
Lawyers and activists conducted sessions on the violation of labour and women rights, social justice laws, involvement of children and ways to take legal action against them.