A recent article published in The Guardian about India's clothing workers highlights the nightmare and atrocities a daily wage earner has to deal with to earn a living for himself and his family.
The article discusses the plight of these workers making clothes that end up in the big name HighStreet stores, highlighting the shocking frequency of abuse, threats and minimal pay. It also mentions that many workers in Indian factories earn so little that an entire month's wages would not buy a single item they produce and that workers who fail to meet impossible targets say they are berated, called "dogs and donkeys", and told to "go and die". Many workers who toil long hours in an attempt to support their families on poverty wages claim they are cheated out of their dues by their employers.
"They call us motherf***ers and push us around and some people get slapped by supervisors and managers,”. "I feel the companies look at the workers like enemies."
For a domestic worker, the story is not so different. The Economist recently took a look at the typical day of domestic service worker, profiling personal assistant Jaganath Mandal. Each day, Mandal juggles the roles of cook, driver, butler, cleaner and laundryman for his boss, whom he refers to as "Madam". He is routinely on his feet for 11 hours, albeit with an afternoon break.
With working conditions at home less than lucrative, workers are idealise the notion of working abroad in order to make their "dream home" a reality, unaware of the horrible working conditions which await them at certain places.
In June, Pasupathi Mariappan, a poor blacksmith who worked with Nass Contracting, hanged himself at a public park in Bahrain after he was allegedly legally prohibited from flying home. He was reportedly the 24th immigrant Indian worker to kill himself this year in Bahrain. An article by The Hindu mentions that Indian nationals form a significant part of the Gulf workforce and India and the subcontinent remain suppliers of huge labour pools — both blue- and white-collar workers. It further states the well-known fact, that most of these workers beg, borrow and sell all they have to make their way to these countries of promised prosperity (mostly by fly-by-night bogus recruiting agencies). More often than not, the realities are a lot different from what they were told or picture it to be.
The government should be the one to set up an example of a secure working condition. The Indian government must consider ways and means to protect its nationals working abroad and ensure worker rights are protected. Strict labour laws should be passed with heavy penalties on defaulters. Someone truly said," We have to be the change that we want to see in the world."
Author: Ajay Pal Singh Chabba/ RESET editorial
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