Workers’ welfare and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in the Indian apparel industry are the areas that need more focus and that too by all stakeholders.
Few of the organisations are doing their best in this regard and the beauty of these efforts is their collective approach. Right from the buyers (brands) to the apparel manufacturers and NGOs, all are actively working together and resulting in continuous empowerment of workers and their families. Highlighting this spirit in a programme held recently in association with Next Plc., UK pro-industry NGO AIDER, Delhi facilitated its supporting partners including well-known brands and Indian garment manufacturers.
In this event, children of home-based hand workers or garment operators presented interesting cultural programmes including a skit that created awareness about Internal Complaint Committee (ICC), women empowerment, women dignity on the shopfloor, freedom of association and Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act.
Majorly supported by Next Plc., AIDER is running multiple activities for these workers and their children – these include playschool, daycare centre, computer centre and tuition centre.
Then there are regular health check-up camps, training and awareness activities. Molarband Extension area of Delhi and Gurgaon are the major focus areas for AIDER as of now.
Apart from Next Plc., H&M, Varner South Asia, Superdry and Impulse are also supporting the community in these locations. Amit Gupta, Director, Pearl Apparels, Gurgaon was present at the event with his family. The company supports children through tuition centre, donating dresses and supporting talented students scoring high marks.
Devesh Gupta, MD, Ila Home Fashions, Panipat, who was also a part of the event, was of the view that in Panipat, collective efforts are very limited and need to increase. Sameer Paintal, Director, Contemporary Exports; A. Rehman, Manager, Compliance (Export Division), TCNS and Ramesh K. Kumawat, Head (HR, Admin & Compliance), Super Fashion, Faridabad were also facilitated at the event as all of them have been contributing to the society in different ways.
Industry stakeholders appreciated the collective work to promote home-based hand workers and their families. “The facilitation is a motivation for those who are supporting the workers and their children as they get a chance to meet and know the industry. We are happy with the overall improvement of these workers and the positive impact on their families,” said Vikram Pandita, Regional Manager, South Asia and the Middle East, Next Plc., UK. He further added this facilitation is beyond professional relationship and inspires all.
Varun Chaudhary, Manager, Code of Practice (Team India), Next Plc., who is associated with activities in Molarband Extension from day 1, shared his experience about the beginning of this community service, saying, “We started this centre in 2012 and it was very difficult in the beginning as hand workers and subcontracters faced all kinds of fears. It was difficult to get land here, but with AIDER and local support, we are now happy as our efforts have improved the lives of many workers and their family members.”
He further added that through welfare activities, they have seen improvement in the quality and delivery of the work of home-based hand workers as this centre is near Bareilly, UP (the major hub of home-based hand workers).
As hand work-based orders were not regular or enough to feed workers, computer centres and other such activities were started to improve the life of workers and support their family members; thereby enhancing cooperation.
The education level of the students has also increased as many of them are scoring very high percentage in board exams; through computer centres and educational improvements, some of the youth have got good jobs in various sectors.
VK Jha, Founder, AIDER thanked the entire industry and urged for more initiatives and support as lot more is yet to be done.
AIDER is also actively contributing to Promote Responsible Migration, POSH in textile and apparel manufacturing supply chain along with other stakeholders. As an implementing agency in Delhi-NCR, it has piloted robust implementation of the Interstate Migrant Act 1979, in 2 factories at Gurgaon and in the workers’ communities in various parts of Delhi-NCR and Jharkhand; the impact has been very encouraging.