The Cost of Speaking Up – Garment Factory Worker Dhakshayani Looks Back at 15 Years of Service that Ended Abruptly

As part of an awareness-building session on the rights of Garment Factory Workers conducted with the help of lawyers Saroja and Shivakumar, garment factory worker Dhakshayani shared her story. Her life tale helped emphasise the importance of knowing one’s rights as a garment worker. For fifteen years, Dhakshayani worked at the same garment factory. She never was aware of her rights as a garment worker and never responded to being discriminated against or when unfairly questioned.


In all, she worked as a quality-checker, a tailor, a helper and took on many other roles as well. But one day, she suddenly thought back on her 15 long years of service and realised that she was missing something fundamental. She started to contact some organisations, to meet people and discuss garment worker rights with them. She visited the Garment Labour Union (GLU) and acquainted herself with her rights and the laws that benefit garment labourers.

In time, she began raising awareness herself, sharing know-how with her employers. The bosses, however, weren’t happy about this and started cross-questioning her about work, demanding answers to pesky questions every day. A big battle with the the higher authorities awaited her daily, but she never gave up. To counter her resilience, the bosses reported her to the police on frivolous charges. She was taken to the police station and forced to resign from her job.

This was six months ago, and since then, she has been without work.

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