Mohit (13 years)
Mohit said: I am around 13 years of age. I belong from a Hindu Yadav (OBC) family of Motihari, Bihar. My father is a very small farmer and have ½ acre a small piece of agricultural land in my village. My mother, father two sisters and brother is dependent on this land. My father also works on other farmers land because our lands productivity is not sufficient for my family. Total earning of my father is not more than Rs 800-1000 pm. Now my father wants to marriage my elder sister. He is a chain smoker. Beeri is very dangerous for his health because he is a patient of Asthma. But no one can discuss with him at this topic. My grandfather was in same condition as my father is. My grandmother told me that my father was very antic in his childhood. At that time my grand father was a milk man. But now my family is too big in comparison of my grandfather’s family. My father has done very hard work for our study and food. But he never came out from the trap of moneylenders.
Forced to earn some money
He continues: When I was around 5 years, I started working with my father for other farmers. Some time my mother was also go with us. Our earning was not more than Rs 40 per day. You can understand it that this money was not sufficient for my family. So my father sent me here last year in September month with my cousin for some earning.
He said: Contractor of washing department of this company (Gulshan Prints Pvt. ltd ) knows my cousin. He is also a permanent resident of Motihari. So I got the job as a apprentice labour in this company. Presently my salary is Rs1000 pm. Contractor gives me Rs20 per day for food. There are also some unpaid apprentice workers (for approximately six month to one year). Their monthly salary is Rs.800-900. These children are living here in Surat with their parents. Some of such parents are also working in this factory. I am living with my cousin but some (5-6) migrant children lives at work place in factory. All migrant child workers wages are equal.
He said: I work 12 hours daily. But those child worker who are living in factory, works 12 hours to 15 hours daily. Their sleeping place is a corner of top floor of the factory. Actually this place is used for the dumping of the waste material. Except for taking food, normally these child workers never go outside of the factory. Basic amenities, such as light, ventilation, pure water etc is totally absent at their sleeping place. Toilets are very smelly and dirty. So they are living like slaves. Normally three- four Chapatis (Roti), onions, and salt are their food. They also suffer health-related problems. Cuts and injuries are very common in this factory, but contractor normally never provide us any medical treatment. Normally we use urine and kerosene in case of cuts. All of us are suffering from swelling of lower limbs and severe pain in the joints. Skin troubles including scabies and respiratory ailments are very common in between us.
He said: Some of my friends who are living in factory were many times beaten by some other contractors. Actually it is a normal routine behavior of contractors. Many of child workers have taken some loan of Rs. 500-1000, so they always feel fear from the side of contractor. These children suffer from psychological distress and are beaten and even tortured if they attempt to escape from the factory.
He continues: You can see bonded child labor practice in the carpet industry of Surat on large scale. A large number of children work as bonded laborers in the carpet industry. The vast majority come from the poorest part of Bihar, which is poorest state in India. In the bonded labor system, contractors give parents a cash advance or loan. The child is often taken far away to weave carpets in order to work off the family debt. The debt is rarely paid off and indebtedness may carry on for generations. The child is, in effect, an indentured servant with virtually no rights and no protections.
He said: The factory places first aid kit on every factory floor. The factory has procedures for dealing with serious injuries that require medical treatment outside the factory. A register of accidents is kept and available. There are more than 500 contract worker and 20-30 child worker in this company. But all this facility is available only for very few 8-10 permanent workers. No ambulance room and medical and nursing staff are engaged by the factory. Many adult contract worker of my company are forced to work overtime during peak season. In this situation they work 36 hour. But they find O.T at single rate. Except permanent workers, all workers have no proof of employment. So we have no proof in case of death or any accident for complaints in labour department.
Always in dept
He said: We are searching water in desert. But it is totally depend on your luck that you will find water to save your life or will die. I came here to earn some money. But after every two –three month I become helpless to take some loan from contractor or from some other person. If I do not take loan, my father will force for it. So how you can imagine coming out from the trap of loan?
He continues: My cousin is very helping person. He always suggests me that I should not take loan from contractor. But it is not possible for him to help me every month. He is a contract worker in the same factory. His salary is Rs 5000 for 12 hours. I am working here because contractor has told me that after one or two year my salary will be doubled.
He said: Contractor had suggested to all child workers that we never tell about child worker practice in this factory to any one or any labour department official, otherwise you will not only loss your job but also salary.
(Interview taken by Devendra Pratap mb: 09596833370, mail: email@example.com)