Since 2009, Primark in partnership with SAVE (Social Awareness and Voluntary Education) has provided education and support to workers and their communities in south India. The programme raises awareness on topics including the importance of children’s education, financial planning, health and worker rights and allows us to go beyond the factory gate to understand the challenges faced by communities in which our products are made.
Our programme with SAVE is for the wider community where our products are made and not just for those who work in the factories that make Primark clothing.
Under the programme, workers form small learning groups, and receive education from SAVE's trainers. Workers in the groups then educate others in the factories they work in, and the communities they live in. A key achievement of this programme is that all workers who take part in the scheme send their children to school and encourage others in their communities to do so.
SAVE also provides vital support through a telephone hotline. Workers who contact SAVE through the hotline can receive confidential advice from SAVE or one of their local partners including trade unions.
As part of the programme, SAVE carries out in-depth surveys to help us understand the challenges that workers, and their communities face. With their support, we are able to build programmes to address these issues.
My name is Rajeshwari, and I'm 49 years old. I have been working for about 15 years in garment factories in South India.
Through SAVE, I've been trained on the minimum wage regulations, social dialogue, and collective bargaining. If myself, or my fellow workers have any questions about our wages, we join forces and contact our local trade union.
We've also had training on our rights around working hours, and the fact that the maximum we should work is up to 8.00 o'clock at night. This is the biggest challenge we face, as if we work more hours than this, or do a night shift, we're unable to spend time with our families and take care of them.
I'm the leader of a learning group, which has around seven to ten other women in it, so I share what I learn from SAVE directly with them.
My name is Karthika, and I'm 27 years old. Since being part of the SAVE programme, I've learnt about saving schemes and now have a bank account to save my earnings. Before the programme, I used to give my salary to my husband, and we'd just spend it. Now, we sit down and make a budget together based upon our individual and family needs.
My name is Valliammal, and I'm 47 years old. Through SAVE, I've learnt about the piece rate system that factories use, and I've successfully bargained with the factory to increase the rate the factory pays us per item we make.
I've also learnt about health and hygiene. My husband has alcohol problems. Because of the training I received, I was able to educate him on the dangers of excessive drinking. He has since cut down a lot.
We continue to grow and develop our programme in south India. We have launched a similar programme in north India.
Migrant workers make up a large proportion of garment workers in north India, and can often lack the full citizenship rights that other workers have, meaning they can lose the right to vote and may not be able to access everything they are entitled to.