July 24, 2021

More than 1k garment workers in Bengaluru cycle for sustainable travel

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With the ongoing efforts of the government to raise awareness about using non-motorized vehicles leading nowhere, over 1,000 women workers from the garment industry in Bengaluru have offered to commute with a cycle to work as a move to save the travel expense.

Initially, few garment workers took up cycling to escape from paying a large sum for the work commute, the Garment Labours Union (GLU) presently considers cycling as its potential to support thousands.

The funds for providing bicycles have been crowdsourced via Greenpeace India which aids in achieving a higher degree of liberty, and also promotes sustainable transport. 

Rukmini V P, GLU President informed that 40-50 workers from 20 garment factories are keen to cycle to work. She said, “Almost all the workers pay anywhere between Rs 600 to Rs 900 per month for transport services. In some cases, lack of first- and last-mile connectivity makes it even costlier.”

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the workers find it difficult to manage such expenses with their salary ranging from Rs 9,000 to Rs 12,500. She stated,  “We held a meeting at the beginning of this year to discuss measures to cut cost and many expressed willingness to cycle to work to save travel expenses. As the news spread, more and more numbers have asked us to help them get a bicycle.”

Greenpeace India took up the initiative after 1,000 workers committed to cycle to work.

Senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace India, Avinash Chanchal said, “On a pilot basis, we have given six new bicycles over the last few months. There are one lakh garment workers in Bengaluru and the number of requests has encouraged us to launch the fundraising campaign. We hope to provide 5,000 bicycles and plan to approach different entities, including the government.”

Rukmini firmly believes in the initiative taken up for sustainable transport, saying, “These are poor women ready to face physical hardships to save money. Their contribution towards sustainability will encourage others to take up cycling.” She added the government should cater to infrastructure that supports cycling rather than flyovers. Annapurna, who travels every day from Doddabidarakallu to Peenya Industrial Area has been cycling for a couple of months. She said, “After the first two weeks, I got used to the physical strain. I am part of the skeletal staff working during the lockdown and I feel the roads have more space for bicycles now compared to April.”

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