The Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills (P) LTD (Howrah)
In this context, Rajat Jaipuria developed a progressive business model for Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills. Among other benefits for workers, this facility has a positive stance towards unions and workers are represented by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
In the 1990s, Rajat joined his family’s textile business with an interest in exporting organic cotton textiles. He soon began to incorporate organic cotton into his factory’s products. Over the course of a few years, Rajat managed to convert all Rajlakshmi production to organic cotton and by 2009 expanded his factory to include 250 machines. Rajat’s goal is for 100 percent of all Rajlakshmi cotton exports to be not only organic but also Fair Trade Certified™.
Rajlakshmi orients its production around sustainability; it is certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and reuses 50 percent of its waste water. This is achieved by collaborating with dye houses and installing reverse osmosis machines. Sludge is converted into fertilizer and fabric scraps are taken from the cutting tables and recycled to produce paper.
The Rajlakshmi Cotton Mill sources its cotton from Chetna Organic Cotton, a Fair Trade cotton project supporting 6,000 farmers. Rajat has been involved with Chetna since its inception in 2004, and Rajlakshmi now purchases almost all of Chetna’s Fair Trade and organic cotton for production and distribution to European markets.
The estimated 500 workers at Rajlakshmi produce knit and woven apparel products, bedding and bath supplies, and accessories such as bags and aprons.
The Fair Trade premium has enabled Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills to establish various social and productive programs for its workers.
Housing Allowance for Workers
Rajlakshmi provides a housing allowance equal to five percent of a worker’s wage to help pay for housing costs.
Additional Services for Workers
Rajlakshmi offers free transportation to and from the factory. Workers receive a 10 percent annual bonus regardless of factory profitability. Workers have two weeks of festival leave per year. A skills training center was developed to promote upward mobility. The factory also offers its workers three subsidized canteens.
Eye Examination and Operation Site
The factory established an eye operation camp where workers and their families can get free cataract surgery.
Future Uses of Fair Trade Premium
Workers have identified several needs to address with Fair Trade premium funds in the future, such as emergency funds, small business loans and a clean drinking water supply for their communities.