This article is published by The Economic Times, 6-12-2007

FFI may drop defamation case against Dutch NGO

BANGALORE: Fibres and Fabrics International Pvt Ltd (FFI), the Indian apparel supplier to global brands like G-Star and Mexx, may drop a defamation case filed against a Dutch NGO that accused its subsidiary Jeans Knit of having poor workplace conditions.

The move to drop the case against Clean Clothes Campaign, the India Committee of the Netherlands and internet company Antenna follows a request by FFI's customer G-Star to settle the matter out of court.

"As of today I am being forced to withdraw all my cases despite the fact that it has been proved beyond doubt that all the allegations are unsubstantiated", said FFI Director (Manufacturing) Ghiase (one name) told reporters today.

Earlier, CCC had persuaded G-star, FFI's only client left after the allegations surfaced, to place future orders only after FFI withdraws the court case.

A local court had, on Saturday, issued international arrest warrants against eight Dutch nationals, including the activists of CCC and ICN, acting on the suit filed by FFI.

CCI and ICN had launched a campaign in 2005 against alleged labour rights violation at FFI and Jeans Knit.

Claiming that the allegations were false and baseless, Ghiase said: "None of the allegations leveled by the NGO have been substantiated... They have turned themselves into a fact-finding committee of a local NGO and have made allegations which have not been proven."

"We have been subjected to innumerable audits by the government, labour commission (and) our customers following the campaign and allegations leveled by them," he said.

However, all the audits have not been able to prove anything, he said.

FFI also lost its SA-8000 certification after it approached a court seeking to stop a local NGO from passing on any information about it, Ghiase said. Denying that there had been any labour violation, he claimed that the company provided free food, transport and looked after the welfare of its workers.

However, the constant bad publicity received by its customer, including G-Star, was resulting in pressure being mounted on FFI to withdraw the cases.

"We might have no other option but this (withdrawing cases)", he said, adding that a decision on the matter would be taken soon.

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Landelijke India Werkgroep - December 11, 2007