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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September 2003, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Textile workers' tales of woe
Trade talks resume in Hong Kong on 13 December. At the beginning of 2005 world textile markets were opened under a deal struck in the last trade round. But both rich and poor workers have worries about free trade in manufacturing, which the trade talks hope to extend.

Earlier, textile workers from the UK and from India told BBC News of their hopes and fears for the future in the sector that is the biggest source of manufacturing exports from developing countries.

Karen Brown and Naresh Shravak


Karen Brown and Eileen Griffiths both work as machinists at Faun Ltd in Sutton, Nottinghamshire.

The firm, set up in 1957, manufactures lingerie, swimwear and nightwear for high street stores and designer labels.

As well as the factory in Nottinghamshire, which employs 70 people, the firm also operates two plants in Morocco.

Managing director Ann Vinter says the UK workforce has been scaled down from 200 one year ago, with all the high volume business going to cheaper places such as Morocco or China.

Karen Brown joined the factory straight after leaving school.

It was good money for us, when we left school everyone went into the factories, it was what you did.

Now working in a factory is embarrassing, it has gone out of fashion.

It's not as secure anymore. There's no overtime money so the wages aren't as good, but we don't know anything else.

Eileen Griffiths has worked at the firm for many years.

We used to love coming to work when we had big orders.

It makes it worse when we see the company is taking our work abroad.

What sort of reward is that?

They [the Government] catered for the men when the mines closed but there's been no help for those of us who lost jobs in textiles.

NARESH SHRAVAK, Ahmedabad, India

Forty year old Naresh Shravak has been a textile mill worker in Ahmedabad - the so-called Manchester of the East - for the past 23 years.

Naresh considers himself lucky to be on the pay rolls of the mill which pays him a monthly salary of 4500 rupees (60 a month).

He lives in one room in a slum close to his work place that his father, who was also a mill worker, had purchased from his life's savings of approximately 900.

I can not dream of purchasing a house with my earnings. My colleagues have to shell out up to 12 as rent.

Had my two children not been getting free education in charity institutions I would not be able to pay for their education.

Going to the cinema is a dream nurtured by my wife and family. They have to contend with what we have.

Naresh works on night shifts at a denim processing unit. He spends two hours daily managing a co-operative credit society for the mill workers.

This society collects small savings from labourers and provides them financial assistance when they have an accident, house repairs or a wedding to pay for.

Being an educated opinion leader of his community, Naresh knows a little about the World Trade Organisation, but he rues the attitude of his employer.

They should tell the labourers what is happening and how labour can contribute in the process of this so-called globalisation.


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