Biratnagar, Apr. 10: While female workers in many businesses and industries in Nepal have dozens of complaints against the company and management, women employees at Reliance Spinning Mills express gratitude to the institution.
It is not that the company pays them higher salaries or offer extravagant facilities. It pays the salary and wages as per the government rules like many other industrial establishments. However, the industry, that is the largest employer in the country and employs 1,500 females, puts extra efforts to provide additional basic support to them which makes them happy. The industry located in Khanar at the Morang-Sunsari Industrial Corridor offers equal pay to the female workers and provides residential facilities to the needy. About 500 female workers stay in hostel inside the industry premises, a significant number of them live there with their family.
A robust security with guards and security is maintained at he hostels which is offered free of rent, with electricity and water supply, to the workers. Likewise, a dedicated space is allocated for women workers for the rest and care their toddlers. A separate hall is filled with toys, and sports materials for the kids to play and pass time. Adjacent room can be used for having rest or breastfeed babies. There is a primary health care centre with dispensary where workers can get their general and emergency health checked up and obtain medicines. A canteen at the industry serves full meal at Rs. 70, vegetarian momos per plate at Rs. 45 and chowmein at Rs. 55. Clean drinking water is provided to all.
Similarly, under its Corporate Social Responsibility, Reliance Spinning Mills provides Rs. 1,000 per month scholarship to 75 children of its workers pursuing higher education and distributes study materials to 150 children going to schools. Sports activities of the workers are conducted regularly, and about 2.5 bigahas of land is leased out to organise sports, said Mahesh Kumar Pokharel, manager of the company. He said that salary of all workers is paid to their bank accounts and all of them are registered at the Social Security Fund.
One of the critical activities for the industry that employs about 4,000 workers, including males, is recruitment. The work is technical and the industry needs skilled and semi-skilled workers which is difficult to find in the market.
Therefore, Reliance runs a 3-month training programme which is offered free of cost to the aspiring workers. They can get the training and work to earn at the same time during the training period. A separate curriculum is developed for the training that prepares human resources for the operation of the machines, quality of the yarn, dyeing and other industrial activities. Supervisor Parbata Khatiwada said that the training had helped many to be economically independent. "We are especially happy that the company takes the cases of violence against women and work place harassment seriously and immediately takes action," she said.
There are periodic interactions with female workers to know about their issues and problems. Maya Bishwokarma, a trade union representative, said that they don't have complaints to the company and management but to the government. They want higher pay since the current monthly wage of about Rs. 15,000 is not sufficient to manage a household.
"While the inflation, family requirement, schooling and many other elements are same for all, why doesn't the government consider about increasing our pay?" Khatiwada asked while adding that the industry workers should have salary equal to the government office assistant level. Since the market rate is same for all, the government must create a policy to provide us better pay, she maintained.
According to her, female employees, especially the daily wage workers, are sometimes under stress when the company is closed, as it happened during the last flood in which about 4-5 foot space submerges, and raw materials and products worth millions of rupees were damaged. "When there is no work, there is no pay, but you have to feed the family," she said. Reliance produces 30,000 tonnes yarn a year and runs 24 hours a day in three shifts and 362 days a year.
About 60 per cent of its products are exported to India, 15 per cent to Turkey and the remaining 25 per cent is consumed in Nepal. Workers of the company received bonus equal to their salary for 4.25 months in the last fiscal year.