Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Factoral Influences on Workers' Job-Satisfaction in Kolkata Leather Units

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Factoral Influences on Workers' Job-Satisfaction in Kolkata Leather Units

Article excerpt

Introduction

The leather and leather products industry is one of India's oldest manufacturing industries that catered to the international market right from the middle of the nineteenth century, the demand for its products being both domestic as well as international right from the beginning. About 46 per cent of the production in the sector is exported and it ranks eighth in the list of India's top export earning industries and contributes roughly Rs. 10,000 crores per annum, i.e., about 4 per cent to export earnings. The sector accounts for 2.5 per cent of the global leather-related trade of Rs. 387,200 crores. An estimated 15 per cent of total purchase of leading global brands in footwear, garments, leather goods & accessories, in Europe, and 10 percent of global supply is outsourced from India. Therefore, the dynamics of the industry has been shaped to a large extent by export orientation from colonial times. The sector is dominated by small-scale firms although there also exists a significant number of medium and large sized firms in all segments of the industry. The industry is concentrated in several leather clusters in four or five distinct locations in the country, with each cluster containing a wide variety of enterprise forms and organizational structure. To be more specific, the major production centers of leather and leather products are located at Chennai, Ambur, Ranipet, Vaniyambadi, Trichy, Dindigul in Tamil Nadu, Kolkata in West Bengal, Kanpur and Agra in U.P., Calendar in Punjab, Delhi, Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, Bangalore in Karnataka and Mumbai in Maharashtra. Tamil Nadu is the biggest leather exporter (40%) of the country and its share in India's output on leather products is 70% (Report of Council of Leather Exports, CLE 2005). With the growing scope of GLP (Globalization, Liberalization and Privatization) job satisfaction of the workers has emerged as an issue of research interest as the issues of quality improvement, competency building, technology adaptation and even the environmental norms compliance are causing deeper impacts on the morale of the workers of the organized leather sector leading to the problems of job-insecurity, role ambiguity etc.

Labour Scenario in Leather Industry

The leather industry is labour intensive and is concentrated in the small and cottage industry sectors. While leather shoes and uppers are concentrated in large scale units, the sandals and chappals are produced in the household and cottage sector. The leather industry employs about 2.5 million people (www.indiastat. com/ Oct, 2009). The industry is also one with strong links with the social structure through caste and community. Thus a large number of people engaged in the industry (entrepreneurs as well as workers) are even today from traditional leatherworking castes (belonging to the lower castes in the caste hierarchy) and the Muslim community. Due to the age of the industry and its links with the social structure, the organizational structure that has emerged is a very complex one that contains within it elements of continuity with traditional structures as well as those that represent a break with them. The processes in the footwear making include last making, pattern cutting, clicking, sewing, assembling and finishing. There is no gender selectivity in child labour. Adults earn wages that are only marginally higher than what the children earn. Irrespective of the experience, skill and family size and requirements the wage payment system remains insensitive and relatively inelastic. Children contribute 20 to 40 per cent of the family income. The labour in the leather industry is defined by the caste location (www.laboubur eau.nic.in/ Nov.2009).

While market forces predominantly govern all other aspects of the industry, the labour is drawn exclusively from the most downtrodden section. As heads of 60 per cent of the households are engaged in leather work, the leather sector study establishes the incidence of child labour in leather flaying as an intergenerational phenomenon. …

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