Indian garment workers take to the airwaves to demand better conditions

Author: Anuradha Nagaraj, edited by Michael Taylor, Thomas Reuters Foundation, India, Published on: 21 February 2019

"Indian garment workers take to the airwaves to demand better conditions", 20 February 2019

...Three radio stations, which are free and broadcast through mobile phones, have been set up across Tamil Nadu over the last year and now give a voice to the thousands of garment workers whose plight has long been ignored by manufacturers and brands.

Operating in the regions of Dindigul, Chennai and Tirupur, they attract more than 200 callers per day and have quickly become a huge hit among the state’s garment workers. Callers into the shows discuss harassment, long working hours, poor wages and other working conditions. 

Many of the factories and mills in Tamil Nadu – the largest hub in India’s $40 billion-a-year textile and garment industry – operate informally, with poor regulation, and provide few formal grievance mechanisms for workers, union leaders say. 

Existing grievance systems, like anonymous complaint boxes and internal committees to deal with sexual harassment, are rarely used by workers who fear they will lose their jobs or distrust management, they add...

Run in collaboration with garment workers’ unions like TTCU [Tamilnadu Textile and Common Labour Union], Garment and Fashion Workers Union, and Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam, these channels are helping to track and find solutions to grievances, labor rights campaigners say...

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