Employment and wages in the bidi industry in India: a gender-focused analysis
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Public Health Foundation of India, India
World Health Organisation - India, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A938
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Majority of bidi manufacturing in India is in the unorganised sector which makes its regulation and taxation difficult. Bidi industry is highly labour-intensive and there is high home-based employment of women and children as bidi workers. Bidi workers are known to get inadequate social security and welfare benefits, and are paid low wages. This study highlights gender inequalities in employment and wages earned in the bidi industry, not previously studied.

Three data sources were used: 1) Annual Survey of Industries - for organized sector 2) National Sample Survey (NSS) Unorganized Manufacturing Enterprises Survey (2000-01; 2005-06; 2010-11) and 3) NSS Employment and Unemployment Survey (2011-12). Share of wages, nature and type of employment in organised and unorganised sectors were studied.

In the organised as well as unorganised sector, the number of female workers was higher than that of male workers. Female workers made up 82.8% of the total unorganised sector bidi manufacturing employment in 2010-11. In 2000-01, average per capita wage of a bidi worker in organised sector was only 25% that of average per capita wage observed in the entire manufacturing sector. This figure declined to 20% in 2005-06 and 17% in 2010-11. In 2000-01, female workers earned INR 7,737.7 less per year than males, on average; in 2005-06, the wage disparity between male and female workers was lower at INR 6,327.8. In 2010-11 however, the wage disparity increased with male workers earning INR 6,610.7 more on average. Contractual workers were paid least wages and managerial workers were paid higher vs. those directly employed.

Although more females are employed in organised as well as unorganised bidi manufacturing sectors vs. males, the average annual wages of female workers are much lower than those of male workers, increasing inequalities. The system of crontractualisation further exacerbates inequity.

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