Nearly 4,000 textile workers, 90% of whom are women working in three units of Texport Industries Private Ltd in Thumakunta of Hindupur in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district are protesting since the last four days demanding enhancement of minimum wages. The textile workers are arguing that the company is paying wages as low as Rs 6,000 per month and that the workers in Hindupur are being paid lowest compared to other units of the company.
On Friday, October 9, about 500 workers took out a rally in Hindupur town and held a dharna in front of the Tehsildar's office there. “Although the workers are not unionised, they were agitated over the meagre salaries and are united in their strike,” said Ch Narasinga Rao, Centre of Indian Trade Union’s (CITU) Andhra Pradesh Committee president, told NewsClick. Rao, who participated in the protest on Friday said that the workers will continue the protest until their wages are increased.
Source said that the Joint Commissioner of Labour will meet the officials of Texport to discuss the demands of the workers.
On October 7, the district police arrested around 25 trade unions members in Hindupur for supporting the workers agitation.
“Arrests and illegal detentions cannot stop the agitation of the women workers to reclaim their rights,” stated a joint statement by the left parties who are demanding the government to intervene and resolve the issues of the workers. “Besides not being paid minimum wages as specified by the central government, there are no basic facilities in the working space,” said Narasinga Rao.
“Of the 19 units of Texport in India, workers in the three units in Hindupur are being paid the lowest wages,” said a worker who wants to remain anonymous. According to union leaders, since the lockdown, the company is also trying to layoff workers in units where the salaries are comparatively higher.
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“Instead of revising the wages, the company increased the transportation costs for the workers,” said Imtiaz of CITU.
Texport industries was incorporated in 1978 is run by the Goenka family and has an annual revenue of USD 80 million according to their website. The company produces in excess of 1.4 million garments a month (17 million annually) from 19 directly owned facilities.