Workers in the textile mills and garment factories in Tamil Nadu, South India, suffer exploitative working conditions. In ‘Maid in India’, a report by SOMO and ICN it is documented that more than 100,000 girls – possibly up to 300,000 – work under employment schemes, often referred to as Sumangali, that amount to bonded labour. Workers make long hours, including forced overtime, under unhealthy conditions. Wages in the spinning mills are far below the legal minimum. Sumangali Thittam (wedding scheme) is when young girls are recruited with the promise of a large payout (for their dowry) at the end of 3-5 years; however, such payouts are often empty promises. Young Dalit girls are most vulnerable – with more than 60% of the workers recruited under this scheme being Dalit,Most of the the spining mills and garment units from Coimbatore,Tirupur,Erode,
READ had research study on 2010 with 250 samples says” 28% were below the age of 14 and remaining was below 18 years. Besides 44% of the respondents’ parents were engaged as agriculture coolie and all the families having debt. The Sumangali Scheme workers were suffering from a number of health issues which so metimestopped them from employment. The respondents had poor facilities in food (23%), toilet (44%). All the respondents were forced to work for 12 hours per day. 82% faced verbal abuse and 5% attained sexual arrestment by co-workers. Only 12-14% of the respondents received bonus and provident fund from this scheme. The girls were facing numerous problems in the workplace. Those were all the girls were forced to work, having no rest at working time, very short time for lunch / tea break. Besides, they faced verbal abuse (82%), long working hours (86%), over lighting (57%), not allowing for toilet at work time (48%), over speed machinery (44%).
Workers are housed in restricted access sites in poor conditions, are paid low wages, from which housing and food costs are deducted. Girls in the age group of 12-18 are most vulnerable to be recruited. Some of the issues affecting the workers include forced labour, child labour, long working days, mandatory overtime, caste discrimination and unsafe working conditions are common.