Indebted to Work: Bondage in Brick Kilns
Premchander, Poddar, and Uguccioni explore the practice of giving advances to rural migrants in exchange for their work in brick production, far from their homes, for over six months per year. By examining exploitative labour practices, including the inability for labourers to leave their jobs and poor working conditions, the authors examine why the Indian government does not prosecute employers under bonded labour laws. Engaging with issues of agency and contractor ‘chains’, they draw attention to the factors that have produced ‘neo-bondage’, which is difficult to recognize and act against, even by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The authors explain the need to improve workers’ livelihoods and recommend facilitating access to official social protection schemes, using modern technology to help workers escape these cycles of exploitation, and investing in their skill development and financial inclusion.
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