Friday, September 5, 2008

Glass factories

Firozabad, an administrative unit in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh is the home of glass bangle and glassware industry in India. It is estimated that about 50,000 children below the age of 14 work in this industry. This is one of the highest concentrations of child labour in the world. According to forecasts, if the child labour were eliminated, production in the glass and bangle industry would go down by 25 percent.

Children are used in all the various phases of bangle making and glass blowing. About 85 percent of them are employed in carrying molten glass on a seven-foot iron rod called labya from the furnace to the adult worker and back to the furnace. They sit in front of furnaces where the temperature is said to be 700 degrees centigrade. Children, as they are small in stature have, to go close to the fire when they collect molten glass from the furnace. In her field research in the glass industry in India, Dr. Burra Neera notes that the children’s faces were only about six to eight inches away from furnaces that were burning at 1500-1800 centigrade.

As they work with fire in these factories, accidents are also common. When children carry moulded glasses up and down, pieces fall on the floor and unless the children are very careful they can get burn injuries quite easily. In the long-term, the continuous exposure to high temperature harms their health permanently.

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