This comment was made by an informal women worker, employed in the garment and textiles sector in Tirupur, in Tamil Nadu, India about the new homeworker groups that have been set up in that city.
Tirupur is known as the t-shirt capital of India. If you buy a t-shirt with a ‘Made in India’ label, there is a high chance that it was made in Tiripur.
In Tirupur, and surrounding districts, there are thousands of mills and factories in this sector. But there are also thousands of women working in small workshops, often homebased, or in their own homes. These women work long hours, for minimum wages, without any formal protection from employment laws or entitlements to medical insurance, old age pension or other rights enjoyed by formal workers.
Since 2011, SAVE, a labour rights NGO based in Tirupur, has been working with these women to support them in developing a form of organisation which makes them visible and gives them the confidence to demand their rights and recognition as women and as workers.
A SAVE worker describes how they won the women’s trust and have developed a programme of training:
“We have seen how the groups develop, through starting savings and loans, doing the training and learning about labour standards. We have given them a lot of information. Some of them are illiterate, but they learn a lot.”
This work is taking place as part of a RAGS DFID project, with Homeworkers Worldwide and Women Working Worldwide. We are also working with READ Foundation in Pudukkottai District to support the young women who live and work in the large mills and factories, under 'Camp Labour' and 'Sumangali Schemes'.