Jerusani (21) from Tirupur stayed with 500 women in a hostel nearby a textile mill. Together the group shared two toilets.
My father Dass and Mary are working as agricultural labourers in the farms of land lords in nearby villages and we do not own agricultural land. I have one elder brother and three sisters. I studied up to 10th standard and after that I could not continue my studies due to the financial problems in my family.
After completing my 10th standard, I was at home doing household activities. My father was approached a labour broker from a nearby village and briefed about the employment opportunities in textile mills in the Coimbatore district. He said that if I work for three years I would get Rs.35000/- after completing the contract period and I would be given a monthly salary of Rs.2000/-. The broker also said that accommodation and food are free of cost, so the monthly earnings could be sent to the family. My father was convinced about the scheme and asked me to join the mill. I didn’t know about the nature of job so I was hesitant to work in a spinning mill which is far away from my native place. But the family situation made me to work and so I joined in the mill in the year 2006.
There were 500 girls working in the mill and staying with me in the hostel. I was given one week training to operate the machines and even before I acquired the skills, they already asked me to work. I had no other choice so I learnt the technical knowhow of machines while working. I had to work for eight hours in a day followed by four hours of overtime. The overtime work is compulsory and every day I worked for 12 hours. The management gave only Rs.500 as monthly salary and I was told that Rs.1000/- is deducted towards food and accommodation expenses.
I stayed in a small room along with eight girls of my age group. There were only two toilets and two bath rooms for the five hundred workers. We had to get up at four ’o clock in the morning to get ready for work and there were no sufficient time to wash ourselves and to have our breakfast. Most of the time, I skip my breakfast due to time constraints, though I felt hungry. The management did not allow us to take break during the work hours and without any rest we had to work like machines. I managed to work for two years continuously and I did not want to work more in the mill. I went home for a temple festival in 2008 and I told my father that I will not go back to the mill. But the warden from the mill called my father and said that I should come back so that I can receive the promised lump sum money. So my father took me back to the mill after festival holidays. I worked for one more year and asked for the money. But the management said that I had taken more holidays than allowed and so I had to work one more year to get the money. Due to the pressure from my parents, I worked for four years in the mill to get Rs.25000/- against the promised sum of Rs.35000/- .