In Tamil Nadu, the textile industry has the distinction of possessing the largest labor-intensive workforce after agriculture. This is due to the large number of medium and small manufacturing units located in 18 districts of Tamil Nadu. 11% of the country’s export earnings in terms of foreign exchange are through textile export (Source: Textile Ministry working group report). In recent years, the migration of workers from North Indian states like Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, and North Eastern states like Assam is increasing and constitute 15% to 35% of the textile workers. (source). In the Tamil Nadu garment and textile industry, there is a system of contractual employment of young, adolescent girls, mostly aged 16 and upwards. This practice of employing young female workers, known as the Sumangali (or known by some other names) Scheme, contravenes the international standards, as established in the Palermo Protocol and borders on ‘trafficking’. Exporters are strongly denying the existence of Sumangali practices in the textile and garment sector, while they admit the presence of the hostel facilities for migrant workers, which is called the ‘camp coolie system’ (source). Whatever be the name, young women workers are often employed virtually under forced labor conditions, as apprentices, but made to work for long hours, not paid the statutory wage, poor working and living conditions, and poor health and safety standards.
READ focus on:
Recently READ has established Educational Centres in 8 migrants settlements in Erode District. These centers work to engage children in school education and work to prevent school dropouts. On the other hand, the Migrant Registration App and a Helpline Number (73 39 49 89 89) were launched to register and handle to solve the grievance through approaching government departments.