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A day in the life of a carpet worker

March 28, 2024

Many millions of women across the globe work in rug production. Here, Samjhana Pradhan of GoodWeave affiliate GWCN offers insight into the life of one such talented lady

Over the years, I have engaged with thousands of carpet workers through my work with GoodWeave Certification Nepal (GWCN), GoodWeave International’s local affiliate in Nepal. These skilled artisans are the often-invisible faces behind the beautiful creations in our homes. Dolma, a highly specialised Nepalese carpet worker with over fifteen years of experience, is one of those artisans. Having started working as a weaver, she now focuses on finishing, repairing and packing new and old rugs for one of GoodWeave International’s licensed exporters, Tibet Carpet (TC), where she has worked for the past ten years.

Nepalese carpet worker Dolma

A TYPICAL WORKING DAY

Dolma travels to work and home each day on public transport. She works Sunday through Friday from 8am to 5pm, with an hour for lunch and two tea breaks.

Daily, during shipments, her line manager starts by providing a team of carpet workers with a written list of specific jobs for that day. The primary focus revolves around weaving, cleaning or repairing carpets to ensure they are prepared for final shipments.

As a specialist in the art of repair, which requires an even higher level of expertise than weaving, she is able to work on several elements of the production process, such as yarn selection, grading rugs, and cutting, cleaning and preparing designs for shipping. She has received additional training from her employer to learn the specialised skill of repair.

‘I have mastered all the skills required for repairs. Compared to other skills involved in rug making, no matter the scale of the issue, I feel confident in my abilities and know I can solve the most difficult repair problems,’ said Dolma.

Dolma’s job often involves working at a table or on the floor, where she inspects and repairs the carpets. She can tell by eye if a carpet typically has sixty, eighty or 100 knots, sometimes up to 150 for thinner designs. She also measures the widths and lengths of various carpets in centimetres before and after drying to ensure they meet the required specifications. She explained these are additional skills she has learned while working closely with her mentors at TC.

Dolma at work

BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A RESPONSIBLE EMPLOYER

Dolma says she is grateful she has been able to work so long with an employer where she is paid on time and for the work she does. She also says she appreciates that the conditions at her place of work are clean, with good bathroom facilities and access to clean water.

‘I feel good working here because I can easily raise any complaints to the owner through management, and the owner takes necessary actions against my concerns,’ shared Dolma. ‘I can freely express my concerns, and the process is smooth and effective.’

As an employee of TC, Dolma has also directly benefited from GoodWeave’s partnership with her company through the social programmes GoodWeave offers workers of its licensed exporters.

She conveyed her delight that her daughter is receiving an education through GoodWeave’s Sponsored Education Programme and is thriving in school. ‘Many mothers say they lack the funds for books and supplies, and can’t enrol their children in school,’ said Dolma. ‘In such cases, with GoodWeave support, workers can obtain books and supplies for their children, leaving mothers only responsible for managing food expenses. This ensures that children can continue their education, contributing to a reduction in child labour cases.’

Dolma at work

Text by Samjhana Pradhan, Executive Director, Goodweave Certification Nepal (GWCN) GWCN, a local affiliate of GoodWeave International, is an approved service provider for Inspection, Monitoring and Certification (IMC) against the GoodWeave International Generic Standard in Nepal. For nearly thirty years, GWCN has carried out audits and inspections of GoodWeave’s licensed exporters and their suppliers. A carpet carrying the GoodWeave label provides importers, retailers and customers with the best assurance it was manufactured free of child, forced and bonded labour. www.goodweave.org

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