Garment workers ferried in goods vehicles; Authorities refuse to act

Employees of garment industries in Gejjalagere Industrial Area, of Maddur taluk — commuting from both Maddur as well as Mandya side — are being ferried in goods vehicles in violation of the rules. However, both the Transport and the Police departments have turned a blind eye towards the plight of the employees, most of whom are women.

At least 4,000 women work in garment industries in Gejjalagere and commute from neighbouring villages and also from Maddur town and Mandya city, on Bengaluru-Mysuru highway. They work as tailors, machine operators, machine assistants and supervisors for monthly salaries ranging from Rs 5,500 to Rs 7,000

The women are ferried in goods vehicles, while some women prefer private autorickshaws. However, even autorickshaws, called shared autos, are also overloaded and women can be seen seated precariously, besides the drivers and on planks placed in the luggage space behind. Some goods vehicles have two levels to accommodate more number of ‘passengers’.

A few months ago, one of their colleagues, Shobha, had died in a mishap, while travelling in a goods vehicle. Recently, nine persons had sustained injuries while travelling in a goods vehicle.

Despite good connectivity, being on the highway, KSRTC’s express buses do not stop near the Industrial Area. Passenger buses are few and are not available during peak hours. When Shobha was killed in the mishap, a few organisations staged protests, demanding transportation facilities for the garment workers.

When the industries declined to provide passenger vehicles, citing operational losses, KSRTC buses were introduced. As the bus fare was expensive, compared to ‘shared autos’, the workers continued to travel in goods autos ferried by their respective companies and in private autos. So, the KSRTC services were withdrawn, again citing losses.

Vijaya, a former employee of a garment industry and a resident of Mandya city, said that she was dismissed as she protested demanding transportation facilities, following Shobha’s mishap.

Secretary of the district unit of CPM C Kumari said that their demands for decent transportation facilities for garment workers have fallen on deaf-ears.  “The district administration should direct the industries to ply passenger vehicles for transportation,” she urged.

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