“How safe are the workers who made my vehicle?”
This isn’t a question many of us ask when we buy a vehicle – not until we hear of the rate at which auto-sector workers in India lose their limbs to factory accidents.
If you didn’t know, that’s 20 workers a day – just in Gurgaon.
A couple of weeks ago, we asked you how India can make its auto sector factories safer for workers – and we are heartened to see your responses! Here are the quick takes from over 130 responses we received:
1. Who should take the lead in preventing worker injuries? Auto-brands or the government?
Overwhelming majority (87%) of you said auto brands should take the lead in making factories safer – no matter where the workers are in their supply chain. Only a small percentage – 10% – feel it is the government’s responsibility.
We agree. Auto brands have the most leverage in making safety a priority across their supply chain – as Anand Gupta said in his response to the poll, “Brand owners leading to higher safety compliance is the way. The garment industry clearly shows that. Factories supplying to brands like M&S or Japanese retailers move to higher quality as well as workers safety and care standards. It has to become a qualification as a suitable supplier"
That said, the government also has its role to play in creating – and enforcing – workable regulations to improve safety. And so do workers themselves: "Auto companies and their employees are jointly responsible for workplace safety. It is important to eliminate apathy, negligence, over confidence and lack of respect for rules and processes", says Mr Parthasarathy R.
2. Can India progress without safety for its workers?
We are encouraged to see that once again a majority (85%) of you said no – we cannot progress until all of us are relatively better off. Also, the Indian worker productivity is one of the lowest in the world, so we believe, that unless we improve working (and living) conditions of Indian workers, we can not achieve sustainable growth.
3. Would you buy differently if you had credible information on worker accidents?
Again, 86% of you said that credible accident data will influence your decision to purchase from a particular brand. For only around 7%, this data will not factor into their decision.
Gajendra Panwar opined in the poll, like many of you did, that brands should include messaging on safety in their adverts: “Companies should be asked to put up on their advertisements the number of injuries in the last 12 months in their ancillary units.” Anil Tandon says "Good idea to make public accidents record to consumers, similar to credit ratings. With public service ads consciousness could be created among consumers to keep this factor in mind while buying products"
We, at Safe in India, will continue working towards bringing hard data for you and for the industry and the government. Here is what we reported in our last report CRUSHED2020 for the period of three years until Mar20:
Hero has seen the worse increase in proportion of accidents among the workers who have come to us for assistance in the past three years and they are also the least responsive to us.
"Auto brands - take this issue seriously!!" says Gopal Sarma.
Stay tuned for our upcoming review of top brands’ compliance of the National Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct, which ask auto-brands to be responsible for workers in their supply chain.
What can you do – now?
As Dr. Amita Joseph asked the panel shared during the launch of CRUSHED 2020, the second edition of our accident prevention report, “Shouldn’t we stay away from companies that have upsetting accident records in their supply chain and embrace ethical consumerism?”
The next time you plan to buy a vehicle, we hope you ask: “How safe were the hands that made this?” Ask the dealer about the actions being taken by the brand they sell, for workers who manufacture their components, and whether there’s any official message from brands on the safety of workers. If they don't know, ask them to find out!
We realize these are difficult questions that take time to find answers to, but wouldn’t it be worth a bit of an effort!
Stay safe! #Join Hands To Save Hands.