Once considered to be the domain of burly men,the shop floors of the manufacturing sector,are witnessing a virtual revolution with more and more women making their presence felt. Several companies are recruiting women for roles that were once the bastion of male workers.
Rohini Kalyani,vice-chairperson and managing director of Kalyani Forge,said the company,as a policy decision,would be hiring women graduates from Industrial Training Institutes for the next few years. Kalyani said that other than improving their gender diversity,women workers have proved invaluable for the company.
The company is into cold and small forgings and women workers would be employed at all evels from shop floor to managerial positions,Kalyani said. Thanks to automation,the shop floor is no longer the domain of male workers only. Other than being focused on work,women workers are excellent in multi-tasking too, she said. The company,she said,would be tying up with engineering colleges and ITI in the rural areas for recruitment. There are around 40,000-50,000 women working in the 10,200-odd manufacturing and automobile industries in and around Pune. The firms together employ over two lakh people.
Companies like Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) have since the last few years successfully run manufacturing units with women. Ravi Sinha,vice-president (corporate comunication) KBL,pointed out how the Coimbatore plant of the company has more than 85 per cent women in its workforce.
Of 98 employees in the plant,83 are women and they are present at all levels of the company,right from shop floor to the supervisory levels. The male employees are there only in supporting roles, he said.
Sinha said women employees have redefined many of the parameters needed for better production.
It was a conscious decision to recruit more women as the plant was to manufacture small pumps and women are often the end users, he said. The company has started women-driven employement in its Devas and Ahmedabad plants. Devas,an old setup,saw a bulk employment of 35 women engineers. We intend to increase the numbers, he said.
Labour leaders said while the medium and large-scale companies have provided facilities like separate washrooms and creches,the situation needs much betterment in small-scale industries.
Vidya Tambe,senior labour leader of the district,said in companies in the vendor line many a time basic facilities are lacking for women employees. Recently,we had visited a company that is the vendor of an automotive chain. The place lacked washrooms for women employees. We were told that majority of the workers were on contract and so it was not mandatory for the company to supply much facilities, she said.
Tambe said although women employees are on the rise,a lot of disparity remains between contract women employees and permanent ones. The rural woman,who works as a contract employee. is highly vulnerable to exploitation and we need to address the problem, she said.