Indian labour rights group Cividep researches the mobile phone industry in India and supports electronics workers in claiming their rights. India will be producing nearly 95 million mobile phones by 2011 annually, of a value of 15 billion US dollars. Cividep aptly describes how awesome companies brandish indifferent social policies. Mobile phone companies are huge multinational enterprises with a lot of financial clout and remarkable technical and marketing competence. However, their approach to workers and the well-being of the community is disappointing.
Cividep’s research reveals obvious reasons for workers’ dissatisfaction, including:
- No annual increment sin wages
- No share in profits in the form of annual bonus
- No training in new skills and no prospects of promotion
- Companies are not serious about occupational health and safety
- Workers have come from long distances to find work, but wages are not sufficient to pay for rents or nutritious food, let alone for savings for their future or to support their families
- Workers don’t get enough time for recreation and entertainment to refresh themselves
- Unions are not allowed in most of the factories. Negotiations with the management are hampered by the lack of experienced and responsible workers’ representatives.
A female worker interviewed by Cividep speaks out:
“It’s tough for pregnant women to workin the factory. The production targets are high and work is stressful. Working on shifts upsets the health of pregnant women more than others. Most women workers leave employment once they have a baby. It’s callous of the company to be insensitive to the needs of women especially when 80% of the work force is female”.
Cividep encourages workers to:
- learn more about labour rights
- learn more about social security
- learn more about company policies
- protect their health
- participate in work councils
- be prepared to struggle for their rights.
A 22 years old operator describes how workers’ health is not the company’s concern: “Many of us in the production department have skin ailments like itching, eruptions and boils. others have lower back pain, eye irritation and joint pain. The factory does have some medical facilities. yet, we are concerned about the lack of monitoring of our health as the toxics we work with could have long term disabling impacts”.