* 20-year-old Jyoti Jaiswar, a third generation migrant from Uttar Pradesh, earns Rs 7-14 a day by tying tassels at the end of rakhi threads at Amrut Nagar, Ghatkopar. She complains of diminishing vision and severe backache.
*42-year-old Fatima Khan, engaged in tailoring at Shivaji Nagar, has fatigue and backache, which is compounded by her recent kidney stone surgery.
These are a few examples of home-based working women in Mumbai, who face health issues ranging from deteriorating vision to persistent backache, and leg pain, coupled with harassment, abysmal working conditions and low pay, reveals a study conducted by the Labour Education and Research Network (LEARN).
The products made are supplied to industries and big organisations. The study concludes that owing to congestion, poor civic amenities and local power dynamics, the condition of such workers in Mumbai was worse as compared to those in Solapur and Nashik.
“Mumbai’s slums are filled with home-based workers, most of whom are women, engaged in providing low paid services from their homes or common community areas. As part of India’s large informal sector, they work under difficult conditions, and are missing from all official statistics on labour. The paper aims to situate their work and life in the broader context of urban infrastructure,” said Indira Gartenberg, PhD student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
In Mumbai, the study was conducted in Amrut Nagar (Ghatkopar), Panjrapol (Deonar), Lallubhai Compound (Mankhurd), Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, Muslim Nagar and Mukund Nagar (Dharavi), and Shivaji Nagar (Mankhurd).
The trades include sequins embellishment on ready-made garments, home-based entrepreneurial tailoring, dupattas, rakhi tassels, necklace thread embellishment, mantle-making and clay lamp-painting, among others.
“In Amrut Nagar, the women complained of backaches, shoulder aches and leg pain. Some also talked of gastro-intestinal problems due to constant sitting and bending while working. They said while earlier the rate per piece (for tying tassels on dupattas) used to be Rs 30 per dozen, since late 2007, it had come down to Rs 24 per dozen. This could be explained by the impact of global recession on garment industry. In Dharavi, women engaged in garment embellishment made Rs 2 to 5 per piece,” says the paper.
According to the paper, the poor working conditions can be attributed to congestion in Mumbai’s housing, which is ‘unmatched’ and is made worse by miserable civic amenities like access to water, sanitation, and sewage disposal and healthcare.