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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Stakeholders Dialogue for Promotion of Decent Work in Retail Sector

The Stakeholders Dialogue for Promotion of Decent Work in Retail Sector for Young Urban Deprived Communities was jointly organized by Shri Shankarlal Sundarbai Shasun Jain College for Women and ActionAid Association on October 12, 2019 at Shri S.S Shasun Jain College premises. The aim of the stakeholder dialogue was to bring the retail sector representatives namely HR Managers, the Civil Society Organisations and the youth residing in the relocation sites and urban settlements onto the same platform to brainstorm and understand the challenges of the retail sector and the expectations of the labour market.The event had an overwhelming participation of 70 members represented by 10 retail HR Managers from Viveks, Sri Krishna Sweets, Naidu Hall, Reliance Trends, Pachaippas Silks, Shanthi Jewellery and, Nalli Silks and Vice President HR of GRT 15 Civil Society Organizations, and 40 youth members of urban relocations sites namely New Kanniamma Nagar, Navalur, Koodapakkam, Perumbakkam, Semmancherry, and Kannagi Nagar There were also lead representatives from academia, government, judiciary and media. The Stakeholder dialogue heard the presentations of the retail representatives in connection to opportunities in retail sector, labour challenges, labour retention, working conditions, living wages and expected employee skills. Presentations by the government and non-governmental agencies in the areas of living wages for decent life standards, skill development through Prime Minister Kaushal Vikas Yojana and National Skills Development Corporation, infrastructure and capacity building support by Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board and role of civil society in economic empowerment of youth and the marginalised communities were also made.
Ms Esther Mariaselvam, Regional Manager, ActionAid cited that we often fail to engage the youth appropriately and called for the recognition and strengthening the power of Youth in the present changing external environment. Dr. S. Padmavathi, Principal Shasun Jain College presented the purpose behind starting the Centre of Excellence Retail as the College being surrounded by Corporate and small retailers. Having connected with 37 big and small retailers she offered to capacitate the youth in retail to meet the requirements of the market through appropriate skill development. Ms Ramapriya , Senior Advocate, Madras High Court informed the august gathering on the wage code passed in the month of August 2019 and mentioned that the same is broader than the minimum wage and the changes that the state may desire to bring in the existing wage has to be above the wages proposed in accordance to the wage code. She enlightened the members on decent work by emphasizing the fact that, the workers are human beings with aspirations and therefore they are to be treated with dignity and not like commodity; Right to work with dignity to be ensured by regularizing Working hours irrespective of season or off season; providing adequate living wages; protection against sickness, disease, ill health, injuries; sexual harassment at work place; the need for providing protection for old age; recognizing equal pay for equal work and ensuring the freedom of association for collective bargaining. Citing the recommendation of Fair Wage Committee, 1949 and judgment of Australian Commonwealth Court aspirations of the workers and reduction of retention in the retail sector she said was possible only through living wages and decent working condition. In response to this Dr.P. Simmachandran, President of TNDFC drew the attention of the members present to some of the realities experienced in the retail sector pertaining to accessibility of Persons with Disability. Ms Kanchana from Thozhamai stressed the need to address stigmatization faced by the community in the job market and demanded jobs based on quality rather than the locality. Some of the best practices from retail sector highlighted by Mr. Thadesh Munuswamy, HR Manager, Reliance Retail Pvt. Ltd.(Trends) like checking the medicines in the First Aid Box on a regular basis, Identification of doctors within the radius of 3 kms to treat employees at the time of emergency, providing wheel chairs to enable mobility were appreciated by the members present. Ms. Kalapana from Viveks laid emphasis on the importance of selling skills and building the courage to initiate a conversation with the prospective customer to close a sale rather than waiting till the customer approaches them to enquire about the product. She reiterated the fact that employability depends upon the skills rather than education or residential locality as far as retail sector is concern.
Mr. Nirmal Raj, Chief Community Development Officer, Community Development Wing, Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board presented their important contribution towards up skilling as the future depends upon the skills. Dr. Rosy Fernando, Chief Excellence Officer, Centre of Excellence Retail, Shri.S.S. Shasun Jain College assured to create a liaison between the retailers, CSOs and the youth from the deprived communities to ensure continuous supply of skilled labour by offering relevant retail skills and charting up skilling program on regular intervals through the Centre of Excellence which will help the retail outlets increase productive outcome and the improvement in wages, which will result in better living standards for the employees from the urban deprived communities.


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