Omex Mill Community
Waiting for the false promise
This project is one of my class room projects at National Institute of Design (2010 -2011), where I went to explore one of the old textile mill workers' community in Ahmedabad, who were rendered jobless due to the replacement of indigenous textile mills by the power looms which started in the 1980s. By the end of the 1980s, many mills were shut down, leaving hundreds of people jobless. A rehabilitation fund was provided for them, but they received only a slice of it. The ex-mill workers have managed to move on, but most of them have have lost hope of receiving the fund which was promised to them. This project is a collection of family portraits of one of the textile mill communities, Omex Mill in Ahmedabad which was shut down in 1987. Had they received the full amount of the rehabilitation fund, their stories could have been different.
Brief background of the Textile Mill workers in Ahmedabad:
The textile mill workers in Ahmedabad were rendered unemployed after the shutdown of vast numbers of mills in 1985. The government set up Textile Rehabilitation Fund Scheme to protect the interest of these workers, where by interim relief is given to the workers on a three years tapering basis – 75% of wage equivalent in the first year, 50% in the second year and 25% in the third year. Under this scheme the government sanctioned 14 crores for the workers but till now after more than 20 years, they have received only 7% of the amount[i]. Omex mill was among the unfortunate mills. In 2002, the workers received 1.1 crores from the due 14 crores. When the mill was shutdown, around 2000 workers were rendered jobless and at the present scenario, around 700 of the workers have expired, according to union leader Amar Barot (Textile Labour Association, Ahmedabad). Since its establishment in 1917, the Textile Labour Association (TLA) of Ahmedabad otherwise known as Mazdoor Mahajan has been representing and standing for the rights of the textile mill workers. This case has been presented and is currently being tackled in the High Court for over two decades and it is still going on. Due to the replacement of the indigenous mills by powerlooms, more than 60 mills have been shutdown since 1983. In between 1984- 1994, over 50,000 workers lost their jobs as a result of large-scale closure of mills in Ahmedabad alone. The National Renewal Fund (NRF) was set up as a social safety network intended for workers both in the public and in the private sectors, but this has been used only on public sector workers, ignoring the displaced workers in the private sector [ii]. Therefore, justice has also been biased.
Dhanjibhai Babubhai Waghela
Dhanjibhai’s family now earned their source of income through laundry services.
Ramesh C. Thakor and family
Ramesh and his wife support their family with by doing different kind of daily wage jobs.
Jeevanbhai Sasiya with his family
Jeevanbhai earned his daily wages as a labour worker for about 10 years. Later he open a small pan shop which his now his main source of income.
Chabuben Nathabhai Parmar
Chabuben’s family now earned their living by making cardboard file holders.
Ramanbhai Parmar with his family
Ramanbhai now worked in a factory to support his family.
Waghela H.L with his family.
He now works as a salesman distributing products around different shops.
Maheshbhai Parmar with his wife and children at their front porch
He is also supporting his family through labour works.
Kanjibhai with his wife and daughter
Kanjibhai now works as a transport labourer to support his family.
Devendra Gangaram with his wife
Devendra now works at the Railway Station to earn his daily bread.
Kanthibhai Maganbhai Verma with his wife and daughters -in-law.
Kanthibhai is now supported by his sons.
Maganbhai with his wife and daughter
He is also supporting his family through daily wage jobs.
Pratapbhai’s family is now currently involved in rubber band packaging and other daily wage jobs.
[ii]Chowdhury, S.C (1996), Industrial Restructuring, Unions and the State: Textile Mill Workers in Ahmedabad, Economic and Political Weekly , February 24, 1996 Vol. 31, No. 8 , pp. L7-L13 http://www.jstor.org/stable/4403826