Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fishermen-turned-garment workers demand fair wages

Operations at the Brandix Apparel City (BAC) in Vizag came to a standstill as villagers from Pudimadaka staged a protest at the site demanding a hike in their salary. The apparel city employs over 6,000 people, mostly women, in its six units. Of these, 300 are from Pudimadaka village. Since they had to give up their land for the special economic zone, these villagers, who were basically fishermen, were given jobs in ACL Apparels of the Brandix group a year ago for a salary of Rs 3,150 per month.

Though the management has agreed to hike the salary according to the Labour Act, the workers are demanding Rs 5,000 per month. On Thursday, they staged a dharna in front of the premises. To scatter the mob, police resorted to lathicharge in which about six workers were injured. To protest this and to support the workers of Pudimadaka, today more than 2,000 villagers gathered at the apparel city with sticks and stones and stopped other workers from entering the units. This brought the entire operations to a standstill.

This is the same place where fishermen in 2008 had protested against laying of a pipeline by Brandix to release discharge from its effluent treatment plant into the sea.

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