On 10th April the Garment Labour Union, GLU, held a meeting with the worker leaders for the preparation of May Day celebration. The meeting took place in our Peenya Road office, and about 45 worker leaders from 15 garment factories from the Peenya Cluster participated. The main points of discussion included:
- Whether the celebrations should be held independently as GLU or in collaboration with other unions.
- Fund –raising and mobilization by the workers for the May Day Celebration.
- This year we will join with other unions, mainly CITU. Collaboration with a central union was seen as an opportunity to interact with other workers and worker leaders.
- A schedule for gate meetings was decided and receipt books for fund raising distributed.
- Worker leaders took responsibility to support in- fund raising, spreading awareness and mobilization
of workers through pamphlet distribution, gate meetings, and badge distribution.
GLU members took part in the CITU planning meetings and highlighted the issues of women garment workers. Gate meetings, badge distribution, fund raising and preparations for the rally picked up speed from 10th to 25th April, organized with the help of worker leaders. The worker based self-help groups made a major chunk of the contributions raised as part of local fundraising for worker’s day celebrations. About 30% of the costs of local travel and lunch for the workers at the rally was covered by local fund raising. The idea was to increase a sense of ownership and solidarity, along with fundraising.
The GLU May Day pamphlet included the following demands:
- Nation- wide minimum wages must be increased to Rs.18000.
- Harassment free workplace.
- Labour law reforms should be stopped immediately.
- Implementation of active and functional Anti sexual harassment committee act 2013 in the factories.
The pamphlet also highlighted the disturbing trend of forced leave and compensatory off used by factory management to minimize labour remuneration, and maximizing profits.
The week preceding May Day, May Day badges were distributed and some workers put it on for a week to work. This was part of an effort to create awareness about May Day on the factory floor. May Day rally was started with a rally from the town hall at 10:30 AM and followed by a public meeting at the Freedom Park. About 3,500 workers participated. About 350 or 10 % were from our union. It was a good show of strength. GLU leaders spoke at the public meeting. On the whole, the garment sector, represented by women garment workers and our leaders made their presence felt, it was a positive experience for all those who participated. The visibility of the Provident Fund strike led by the garment workers had already made a mark in labour rights conversations, this time our participation only made our presence stronger.