In February this year, hundreds of garment factory workers in Gurgaon’s Udyog Vihar went on a rampage following rumors of the death of a worker who had been beaten up by the managers. They set dozens of vehicles on fire and vandalised the factories. The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and NGO Perspectives have now released a fact-finding report on the incident, painting a sad picture of the conditions of the workers.
According to the PUDR report, the workers are “regularly harassed, beaten, not paid adequately and verbally abused by the company management and the bouncer-turned-guards. It is quite common for the worker to be attacked by a pair of scissors, a handy tool, by the supervisor/management or the labor contractors. Women workers are often subjected to sexual abuse too.” The pay given to the workers is barely above the minimum wages and very few of them get house rent allowance, according to the report. Dearness allowance and other allowances are zero.
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Also, safety gear is “hardly ever used” by the factory workers. The use of such equipment is “discouraged as they tend to slow down production”.
Most of the workers put in long hours overtime — working up to 100 extra hours in a month — in violation of the current labor laws which allow for only 50 hours. The laws regarding overtime pay have also been violated, the report stated.