Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Trip to Reid & Taylor

By Chelsea, BSILR'12

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to visit the Reid and Taylor factory in Mysore. It is the brand’s only fabric production plant in the world and runs around the clock every day to meet their customer’s demand. The factory is a prime example of a top run manufacturing plant in India with a reputation for its efficiency and on-site waste disposal technology. For us ILRies, this field trip was the perfect way to connect the business practices we learned through courses in Ithaca with how a company in the organized sector in India has applied them.

As we walked through the factory, the plant manager (I’m not sure of his proper title) explained the various stages of the production process to create their suiting fabrics. We saw everything from how wool and polyester is dyed and spun into thread, woven into sheets of fabric, checked for quality and finally washed and prepared before being distributed to customers. For all of us, this was our first time being exposed to the extensive production process required to make the material for dress suits—some of which may be found in our own closets.
Everybody from the line workers to the women mending minor flaws in the fabric was content with their working conditions. They are part of the select 8% of the population employed in the organized sector in India who has the ability to join Trade Unions, be provided with on-site day care facilities for their children, and a mechanism for Indian labor laws and regulations to be enforced.

Leaving the site, we were in awe of the sheer size of the plant as well each individual unit of work and coordination it required to maintain its output capacity. As students learning more about labor relations and working conditions throughout India, we left contemplating some of the challenges and questions facing Indian policy makers: What can be done to improve the working conditions for the 340 million people still in the informal sector?
Although we were unable to visit a work setting in the unorganized sector, the magnitude of its presence hasn’t escaped us. Being in India has magnified the difficulty any government or society will face when attempting to address and improve the working conditions of a population of this size with limited resources. 

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