All India Rally of Garment and Sportswear workers

Workers becomes torch bearers as they rally across the country

The All India Rally of garment and sportswear industry workers mobilized thousands of workers across the country passing through Tirupur, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Surat, Kolkata and Ludhiana, the major garment producing centre. The Rally will culminate in a meeting to be addressed by the Labour and Sports Minister in Delhi in August.

Tiruppur, 19th July: The All India Rally of the Garment and Sportswear Industry Workers commenced at Tiruppur on 19 July. A public meeting was organised by CITU, AITUC, AICCTU, INTUC, LPF, MLF and SAVE.

The meeting was conducted at KSR Hall. A large gathering of 850 to 900 garment workers made the meeting a huge success. It started at 6.30 p.m. and ended by 9 p.m. The Organising Committee distributed brochures printed in Tamil amongst the workers. Signatures were collected on a mass petition to be submitted to the Labour and Sports Ministers in the concluding meeting to be held in Delhi in August. The media covered the event both on the day of the meeting and a day prior to it as well.

N. Chandran, General Secretary, Coimbatore District, CITU, Chaired the meeting. Other speakers were Mr. Dandapani, Secretary, Coimbatore District, INTUC, A. Aloysius, Director, SAVE, J John, Director, CEC, R. A. Mital, General Secretary, HMS, Muthu Kumara Swamy, Secretary, MLF, Govinda Swamy, CITU and Govindarajan AITUC.

Chennai Report: The All India Rally of the Garment and Sportswear Industry Workers reached Chennai on 20 July. A Public Meeting in Chennai was organised by AITUC, AICCTU, HMS, CITU, NTUI, UTUCLS and regional trade unions like Labour Progressive Front (LPF) and MLF and Movement for People's Unity.

The meeting was organised at Ambathur Industrial Estate, the biggest industrial zone in Chennai, where nearly two lakh workers engage in garment production daily. The meeting started by 6 p.m. and closed by 8.30 p.m. The venue and time of the meeting were well chosen for it caught attention of the general public and was well covered by the media. Brochures and pamphlets printed in Tamil by the Chennai organising committee were also distributed amongst the public.

Mr. Selva Raj, General Secretary of the Labour progressive Front (LPF), Chaired the meeting. In his introductory speech he mentioned the context in which the Play Fair at the Olympics Campaign had been launched. Other speakers at the meeting were R. A. Mital, General Secretary, HMS, T R S Mani, State General Secretary, Chennai AITUC, A G Kasinathan, District Vice President, Ambathur District, CITU, J John, Director, Centre for Education and Communication (CEC), Mr. Subbu, NTUI, Mr. Shiv Kumar, UTUCSL, Mr. Kumar, General Secretary, Tiruvollur District, Johnson, Joint Secretary, LPF, J. Shree Ram, Movement for People's Unity and S. V. Paramashivam, State Assistant General Secretary, MLF. The final vote of thanks was given by Comrade Palaniyappan, Ambathur President, AICCTU.

At the end of the meeting signatures were collected on a mass petition to be submitted to the Labour and Sports Ministers in a concluding meeting at Delhi in August.

Bangalore report: On day three the Garment and Sportswear Industry Workers reached Bangalore on 21 July from Chennai. The meeting in Bangalore was organised at AITUC state office auditorium at 4.30 p.m. Trade Union leadership from CITU, UTUC, HMS, INTUC, AICCTU and AITUC were present. About 200 workers belonging to different trade unions and from various garment-manufacturing units participated in the meeting.

The meeting was Chaired by M. C. Narasimhan, State President, AITUC, who emphasised on the need to organise workers in the garment sector. He also thanked all the trade unions for coming together on one platform for the cause of the workers.

Others who addressed the crowd included Comrade Varalakshmi, CITU, Srinivas Murthy, HMS, Prakash, UTUC and N. Prabha, INTUC. E. Suneetha, CEC and Pranjal Goswami of CEC described the context, significance and objectives of the campaign.

The mass petition was also signed by all the participants to be submitted to the sports and Labour minister at the Delhi meeting in August.

Mumbai 23rd July: Destination four was Mumbai where the workers rally reached on 23 July from Bangalore. The meeting in Mumbai was organised by the Maharashtra State HMS members at Vanmali Hall, Dadar West. Comrade Vasanth Gupte, HMS, Chaired the meeting. He emphasised on implementing proper and fair rules for garment and sportswear manufacturing units. He also described the activities of the newly formed association, 'Garment Kamgar Sushan Manch'.

Other speakers at the meeting included Comrade Bajrang D Chavan, RMM, Comrade B. R. Shukla, Shrava Shramik Sangh, Comrade Sanjay Badhavkar, HMS, Comrade S. Srinivas Murthy, HMS, Bamgalore, Comrade Dada Samant, KAM, Comrade G. B. Gawde, INTUC, Comrade D. Thankappan, NTUI, Comrade Gunjan Khatie, GKSS and Comrade Vivek Monteioro, CITU. Pranjal Goswami and Suneetha Eluri of CEC explained the objectives and context in which the campaign was being taken out. Comrade Desai of HMS extended the Vote of Thanks at the end of the meeting. The meeting was well attended and ended with the resolution of taking the campaign forward.

Prior to the meeting a press conference was held to explain the activities carried out so far by the Play Fair at the Olympics: India Campaign.

Surat 25 July: The garment workers rally meeting in Surat was held at the South Gujrat Labour Institute on 25 July. There was gathering of 50-60 people from different unions and organisation - namely INTUC, AITUC, NTUI Dakshin Gujarat Kamgar Association, Textile Labour Union, L&T Kamgar Sangh GGCL Employees Union, Cyanide Chemical Employees Union, Chemical Mazdoor Panchayat, Jana Sangharsh Naatya Manch.

The meeting was chaired by Comrade Naishad B Desai, President, SGLI. Comrade Desai expressed the need to take the campaign to every field of work where the labour class faces exploitation and demand recognition of labour. Comrade Vijay Shenmare, AITUC, Comrade Urmilaben Rana of INTUC addressed the workers, urging them to unite and not compromise on their rights. E Suneetha (CEC), Pranjal Jyoti Goswami (CEC) and Ashim Roy (NTUI) explained the context, objectives and the activities of the campaign. Representative from All India Insurance Employee Union requested the gathering to form a people's forum to fight together. Representative from Dakshim Gujarat Kamgar Association was also present.

The entire representative signed the 'mass appeal'. A separate resolution was also passed in the meeting. According to the resolution (1) Four members from different unions would represent Surat in the 4th August meeting. (2) During the Olympics at Athens all the textile industry workers will demonstrate against workers exploitation. (3) A letter with the case study of the textile workers would be sent to the Olympics Association. (4) Small leaflets would be circulated in Surat to sensitise the general public.

The meeting was successful with an enthusiastic participation from the workers determined to carry on the fight to improve their condition.

Kolkata 28th July: A public meeting for All India Rally of garment and Sports wear workers was conducted in Kolkata on 28th August. The UTUC state unit conducted the meeting.

About 850 garment workers gathered at Kirawai Road with the banners and badges upholding Play Fair at the Olympics: India Campaign. A significant number of the workers present comprised women workers. UTUC state unit led the Rally at 3 p.m. from Kirwai Road. The Olympic model torch was passed to the workers. The Rally passed through all the important business centres of Kolkata - Kirwai Road, SN Banarjee Road, Jawahar Lal Nehru Road, New Market and Esponid East, finally reaching the Lenin Statue at Wellington Square, venue for the public meting by 4 p.m. The rally as it passed, drew the attention of many who joined them for the meeting.

Sunil Sen Gupta, General Secretary, UTUC chaired the session. He addressed the gathering giving a philosophical approach to the campaign. Other speakers who addressed the public were PK Ganguly, working committee member, CITU, Comrade Ashok Ghosh, State Secretary, UTUC, Comrade Viplav Sen, UTUC leader from Kolkata and Comrade Mihir Chandra.

The meeting ended with collection of signatures on the mass petition and show of enthusiasm and determination from the workers to carry the demand for their rights forward.

Ludhiana 30th July: Ludhiana, the last of the eight centres that the workers took the campaign to was reached on 30 July. A public meeting organised by AITUC, CITU, HMS and INTUC at the Janakpuri Community Centre.

About 400 garment workers were addressed by Sree Swaran Singh, District President, INTUC, who chaired the session. A D. Nagpal, Central Committee member, HMS, Com Jagdish Chand, Ludhiana leader, CITU, Sanjeev Pathak, Secretary, HMS (Punjab), Dr. Subhash Chander Sharma, President, INTUC (Punjab), S K Tiwari, INTUC, O P Mehta, AITUC, H S Mishra, HMS, P I Raveendranathan and Suneetha Eluri from CEC were the others who addressed the gathering.

At the end of the meeting all workers came forward to sign the mass petition to be submitted to the Labour and Sports Ministers at the concluding meeting to be held in Delhi. The meeting ended with a good cheer from the workers to carry on their struggle for better working conditions

Concluding Meeting at Delhi: The Concluding Meeting of All India Rally of Garment and Sportswear Workers was held at Delhi on 24th August in Constitution Club, Speakers Hall.


Campaigners organised an "All India Rally" of garment and sportswear workers, which started in Tirupur on 19 July 2004 and will conclude in New Delhi on 4 August 2004.