At the car bumper sawmill

These four workers are employed at a car bumper sawmill in Tikri Kalan within the PVC Market, a market dedicated to the wholesale reselling of plastics where tons of materials are delivered every day before being sorted, processed and sold on. Their job consists in sawing and grinding the car bumpers that appear in the background – a physically demanding, difficult and dangerous task. Their foreman authorized them to take a quick break so that we could chat for a few moments. Like most workers at the PVC Market, these men belong to the Khatik caste: a community traditionally associated with the impure work of tanneries and relegated to the very bottom of Hindu society. For several decades however, this community has developed new skills: they are now able to tell apart many different types of plastics (polypropylene, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, etc.). Some Khatik became rich by exploiting this knowledge (Gill 2010). However, the four men only earn a meagre wage, in the region of 10,000 rupees (the equivalent of under €200 per month), although they do not dare to complain in front of their employer. The bell rings for the end of the break and soon the workers return to the rumble of the sawmill.

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