Behind The Label with RJ Asha and Sarvamangala – “Production expectations are high, salaries are low, and our health is suffering.”

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Sarvamangala works as a garment factory worker in Bangalore, and her life story is similar to many of the women who work in the city’s busy garment industry.

Renting a small house for INR 400, she shares her life with her three children and mother. She would work from 7.30 am to 7.30 pm, and also try to earn some extra money to fulfill her children’s needs. In this interview, she relates how working conditions have changed in garment factories from when she started working to today. “In those days, the production levels used to be normal, but today, even if we work continuously for eight hours, we are often unable to reach the expected production level,” she says. “They ask for 100 to 150 pieces within eight hours, but it is difficult to sit for that long because it gets too dusty.”

This level of intense pressure means that these workers face many health issues. Complicating the situation is the low level of salaries. “Earlier, we could manage with INR 500 per month, but now even INR 10,000 does not suffice.”

Sarvamangala talks about her life lived in poverty and the difficult childhood she had as a result. Born in a poor family in Chennapatna Taluk, she had four siblings, and later got married into another family which was equally poor. On facing harassment from her husband, she left him, taking with her their three children as well. She shifted back to her mother’s home and started a new life in Bangalore.

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