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Ahmedabad: A civil society report based on interviews and focused group discussions with 95 workers employed in large-sized processing factories situated in Narol, a garment and textile industry hub of Ahmedabad, has said as many as 96% are contractually or casually engaged on verbal terms without any written agreements, with many of them being paid cash daily or on piece-rate.
Carried out by Aajeevika Bureau, the report, “Looking beyond fire extinguishers: Surveying fire hazards in the textile hub of Narol”, says, only 17% of the surveyed reported deductions towards provident fund (PF) or Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) scheme.
Pointing out that 71% of the workers were found to be employed in the same premises for more than a year, the survey says of these 83% were without social security cover, and in many cases even lacked adequate shelter or access to basic facilities at their workplace.
The report has been prepared to highlight the working conditions in the Narol industrial units against the backdrop of a catastrophic fire which took place on February 8, 2020, during the operational hours of the factory of Nandan Denim Limited, which took lasted for 22 hours, as a result of which seven workers died of burns and asphyxiation. A major factor was lack of fire extinguishing facility in the cramped textile unit.
Stating that 98% of the workers reported working in 12-hours shifts, with no overtime compensation and often unpredictable timings, the report, released in Ahmedabad, says, “All of the participants complained of unbearable heat at their workplace, in spite of fans and exhaust fans in 88% and 50% cases, respectively.”
Pointing out that 96% of the workers reported unchecked presence of fabric dust and fumes, and 97% cited regular contact with harsh chemicals that causes, inter alia, burns and irritation to skin, eyes, nose and throat, the report says, these working conditions are indicative of contraventions of that legal requiring “effective measures to prevent inhalation of impurities as well as provision of adequate ventilation and temperature regulation in every workroom.”