Migrant women in Tiruppur garment units endure harassment despite complaints

A lot of women are suffering from such harassment from colleagues and employers. Sadly there is no one to help.
The most affected are the single migrant women, who are emotionally very weak and financially very poor. Most of the time they leave the organisation and go back to their native.
The most affected are the single migrant women, who are emotionally very weak and financially very poor. Most of the time they leave the organisation and go back to their native.(Express Illustrations)

TIRUPPUR: Thousands of women migrant workers employed in garment manufacturing units and spinning mills at Tiruppur suffer workplace harassment despite lodging complaints due to lack of help from contractors or unions. They are forced to either quit or wage a lone battle against their oppressors.

According to official records, Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) has been formed in all factories and commercial establishments in Tiruppur district.
As per records shared by revenue department, there are more than 1.30 lakh migrant labourers in the garment industry (male & female)  - 45,722 (Odisha), Bihar (37,348), West Bengal (12,026), 9,396 (Uttar Pradesh), 9,044 (Jharkhand), 7,340 (Assam) and many other states.

But, this figure completely conflicts with data from the Industry Safety and Health Department (Tiruppur), which puts the number of migrant workers to 64,300 in the entire Tiruppur district. Pooja (name changed), a native of Bihar, said, “I am the third child in my family and have completed 10th standard. One of my relatives was working as a tailor here. With his help, my friend and I found a job in garment company in Anuparpalayam. I was paid `10,000 per month. After 2 months, the supervisor of my company began to harass me, verbally and physically. I was afraid and told my friend. She informed me to lodge a complaint with the manager. The manager didn’t take the issue seriously and he started to threaten me. I quit the company got a job in a provision shop as helper. A lot of women are suffering from such harassment from colleagues and employers. Sadly there is no one to help, sometimes even male workers who are friendly in the beginning start to dominate us.”

Speaking to TNIE, Vizhuthugal Trust coordinator V Govindarajan, “Migrant women don’t know Tamil and converse only in Hindi, Odia Bhojpuri etc. The language barrier proves to be the biggest obstacle for them when they are facing harassment in workplace. Only with the help of other female migrant women can they face the issue. Sometimes they lodge a complaint with the employer. If the employer is serious he will take action otherwise the women are forced to face harassment or the leave the organisation. The most affected are the single migrant women, who are emotionally very weak and financially very poor. Most of the time they leave the organisation and go back to their native”

District Social Welfare Officer (Tiruppur) S Rajitha Devi, we don’t differentiate between migrant women from other states and female workers from other districts. We have been instructed to form an internal complaint committee (ICC). The committee has power to address the issue of verbal, visual and physical harassment against women. The committee has members which include an advocate, member of an NGO, HR or Labour officer of the organisation. Based on the enquiry conducted by ICC the person guilty will be dismissed from the organisation. If no action is taken the women can complaint against the guilty and employer to LCC (local complaint centre) located in the collectorate.”

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