Why are companies hiring women on the shopfloor

From Bajaj to Tata, Auto Companies are hiring more Women on the Shopfloor

In the name of breaking the glass ceiling, being more inclusive, being gender sensitive, Auto companies in India have found a new way to make it difficult for unions to be organised in the country.

First, they hired migrant workers to break the unity among local workers, then they divided workers as regular and irregular, then they moved to rural areas and hired first generation industrial workers, and now they have decided to hire women on the shopfloor.

What do Corporates gain if they Hire Women?

There is no doubt that employers within a capitalist system act only to make more profit, or else it is irrational behaviour for them. Thus, even if it seems like one good step they are taking by including women on the shopfloor, there is a profit motive behind it.

 According to the management at Tata Motors’ Pune facility: the all-women’s line brought in a new work culture and improved shop floor output, quality and the discipline so needed for competitiveness. This understanding is reflected in the move that others are also pushing for women on the shopfloor. And to ensure this, employers are demanding for an amendment to the Factories Act to allow women in all shifts.

Economic Times on 15 March published a profile of 5 major auto companies and how they were breaking the glass ceiling. Based on that report, the following observations can be made:

Tata Motors

  • First introduced an all women line in its Pune facility. Productivity in this line increased by 15-20% and Zero Defect is higher.
  • Presently 1952 women are employed in all the plants together out of the total workforce of 41,390, which is 5% of the total.
  • The target is to reach 20-25% women in total workforce the next few years
  • To achieve this, Tata Motors has set up skill development centres across all plant locations, where it targets 50% to be women primarily from rural/ small towns/ economically-deprived areas.

Bajaj Auto

  • From 2% in 2014, number of women has increased to 4.3% of the total workforce of 7,371 workers.
  • In Pantnagar, women account for 13.7% of the total 983 workers, followed by 6.1% at Chakan of a total of 1,607 workers.
  • Target is to get to 10% in the next three years and then move towards 15%

Hero Motocorp

  • 250 women employed in total
  • The packaging line at Neemrana, Rajasthan is completely managed by women workers.
  • Target is to double the number in the next 5 years.
  • Project Tejaswini, a gender diversity initiative to create job opportunities on the shop floor.

Yamaha

  • Started a Pink Line in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Govt.
  • 5% of total workforce is women
  • Target is to get to 10% of the total workforce in the next few years

Renault Nissan

  • Employs 140 women in its Chennai facility

 Royal Enfield

  • 2 exclusive all-women lines — engine assembly and fabrication workshop.
  • Number of Women increasing 10% year-on-year for the last three years
  • Target is to increase women to 30% over the next five years

 

It is critical to note that while it is important to ensure more women participate in employment, the shift towards hiring women is grounded in the management understanding that women can be controlled more easily than men. Sexual harassment or the threat of it is often used as an effective mechanism to keep women under stress and control. Further, hiring women would pitch the men against them and create conflict both at work and at home. And finally, this move at best would require the unions to restructure and rethink their strategies and at worst would push the unions to take an anti-women position and hence weaken them.

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