European and US garment brands and retailers have failed in their attempts to structurally improve labour conditions at their suppliers in Tamil Nadu, South India. Despite corporate promises and a range of well-meaning initiatives, workers, mostly very young women, continue to suffer exploitative working conditions. Up until today, thousands of women in the garment and textile industry in Tamil Nadu work under recruitment and employment schemes that amount to bonded labour. These are the findings by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) presented in the report “Maid in India” (0.9 mB) , published April 25, 2012.
|Answers to Parliamentary Questions to European Commission by MEPs Sargentini, Lambert en Delli (Verts/ALE) (subm. 15-4-2014) on tackling modern slavery in the South Indian textile and garment industry
|Answers to Dutch Parliamentary Questions by members Voordewind (ChristianUnion), Gesthuizen (Socialist Party),
Van der Staaij (Reformed Political Party) and Van Ojik (GreenLeft) (subm. 28-5-2014) to the Minister of Foreign Trade
and Development Cooperation on garment companies who provide no insight into their approach
to bonded (child) labour in India
|Poorly Paid Garment Workers Clothed in Worry (The New Indian Express)
With schools reopening in a few weeks, Veena, employed in a garment factory near Mysore Road, is a worried mother.
From the few thousands she will earn this month, she needs to buy stationery and uniforms for her two children in high school. This apart, she has grocery and travel expenses daily - all this to be met within 2,000.
|Behind the showroom: the hidden reality of India’s garment workers (FIDH)
Labour rights abuses and grave human rights violations, including bonded labour, are enduring on India’s garment factory work floors, said FIDH in a report launched today in New Delhi. To conceal indecent working conditions, garment factory managers and owners deploy extremely well-orchestrated show-responses to external visits by auditors, foreign buyers and NGOs alike.
|'Rights Abuse Rife in TN Garment Sector' (New Indian Express)
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), working on human rights issues, has alleged that labour rights abuse and human rights violations, including forms of bonded labour, are prevalent in the garment factories in India.
|International garment brands not transparent about labour exploitation by their Indian suppliers: report (Down to Earth)
An international organisation working for welfare of workers has drawn attention to the hazardous and exploitative working conditions of young girls working for the garment sector in Tamil Nadu.
An estimated 100,000 children and teenage girls are working in extremely oppressive conditions in the spinning mills and garment factories in Tamil Nadu, according to a report released by FNV Mondiaal (international department of Dutch trade union confederation) and the India Committee of the Netherlands. Most of the girls belong to dalit communities and live in hostels, with little freedom of movement.
|Garment brands not transparent on tackling bonded labour in India (FNV Mondiaal/ICN)
Most Dutch and international companies importing garments from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu refuse to be transparent about if and how they tackle bonded labour at their suppliers. An estimated 100,000 young children and teenage girls are victims of 'bonded labour' or 'modern slavery'. These girls – mostly Dalit ('outcaste’) – live in hostels, with little freedom of movement, underpaid for long working-days and working under unhealthy conditions.
This is an important conclusion of the paper Small Steps, Big Challenges - Update on (tackling) exploitation of girls and young women in the garment supply chain of South India that FNV Mondiaal (international department of Dutch trade union confederation) and the India Committee of the Netherlands have just published. The report discusses the current situation in Tamil Nadu, the limited improvements after previous reports and the responses of 21 Dutch and international garment brands on the question of what they do to combat the abuses. It also discusses the activities of various joint initiatives by companies and other organisations.
|I Tried to See Where My T-Shirt Was Made, and the Factory Sent Thugs After Me (MotherJones.com)
After meeting India's "sumangali girls," I'll never look at cute, cheap clothes the same way again.
|Motion Member of Parliament Voordewind (ChristianUnion) c.s. for broad agreement in co-operation with the Dutch garment industry for high-risk countries
|47 young labourers rescued from spinning mill in Erode (The Hindu)
Forty-seven young labourers, including 24 from Chhattisgarh and 12 from Assam, most of them girls, were rescued from bondage in P.V. Spinning Mill at Vinnapalli village near Sathyamangalam in Erode district by a team of officials on Monday night. The remaining 11 workers are all girls belonging to various parts of Tamil Nadu.
(See also video on YouTube : Sumangali girls rescued at Sathyamangalam (TN) (15-10-2013))
|Fact Sheet Forced Labour: Focus on the role of buying companies (SOMO)
Nobody should be forced to work against their will.
Any form of forced labour is a grave violation of human
rights. However, in many parts of the world men, women
and children are trapped in jobs that they were forced
into by coercion or deception. Often, they cannot leave
This fact sheet is about forced labour in the textile and
garment supply chain. It offers examples of different
types of forced and bonded labour. Recommendations
are made for garment buying companies to recognise
cases of forced labour in their supply chains and to act
upon these practices.
|India’s textile hub Tirupur less likely to witness a garment factory collapse like Bangladesh (The Economic Times)
Tirupur, India's foremost textile hub located close to Coimbatore, has been nervously following Bangladesh in recent years. That started when India's eastern neighbour, what with its duty-free access to Western markets and cheap labour, started snatching prime business away from Tirupur.
|Young Women Exploitation in Tirupur Textile & Garment Industries with reference to Sumangali Scheme (International Journal of Engineering and Management Research)
After agriculture, the Textile and Clothing (T&C) Industry is the second largest sector in the Indian economy in terms of output, foreign exchange earnings and providing employment and employment-generating Industry in India. The latest estimates reveals that the direct employment of over 35 million people are engaged with Textile and Garment Industries across India, Tirupur and nearby Coimbatore have long been the centre of a textile and garment industry supplying a national market. Now, Tirupur is declared as a corporation from being just a municipality town, because of its demographic and geographical growth. The Textile Industry in Tamil Nadu particularly Tirupur has been reported to be exploiting young women workers in the spinning and textile units under what is called the “Sumangali Scheme.”
|Child labour in the Indian textile industry: Rescue of Sumangali Girls.
|Time for transparency in the garment industry (SOMO/ICN)
It is difficult to find out where exactly clothing brands source their products. Although, according to international guidelines, enterprises have to map their supply chain and make this information accessible to stakeholders, most companies simply do not come forward with this kind of information. SOMO and ICN elaborate on why the garment industry has to become more transparent.
|Time for Transparency: The case of the Tamil Nadu textile and garment industry (SOMO/ICN)
This paper argues in favour of enhanced transparency in the global garment supply chain. Building on recent work on the appalling employment and labour conditions in the Tamil Nadu (India) textile and garment industry, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) build the case for substantial supply chain transparency.
|Petition to recommend Honourable Chief Minister for releasing Solatium of Rs 3 lakhs for the family of the
deceased Mrs. G.Kayalvizhi, textile mill worker, by Tirupur People's Forum for Protection of Environment & Labour Rights, to District Collector, Erode, Tamil Nadu
|Tailored for Tyranny (FountainInk.in)
Tirupur is India’s knitwear district, a small town in Tamil Nadu that exports garments worth thousands of crores every year. But success is built on a systematic exploitation of workers who are treated as bonded labour, not paid minimum wages and made to work inhuman hours to produce the brands that everyone wears.
|Corporate Social Responsibility in der Textilindustrie: Welchen
Einfluss haben "Codes of Conduct" von Modeunternehmen auf die Arbeitsbedingungen von Fabrikarbeiterinnen in Indien? – Eine
literaturgestützte Problemanalyse am Beispiel des "Sumangali"-Schemas (Studien zur Materiellen Kultur - Universität Oldenburg)
| Sumangali Scheme (SAVE)
Short film (26 min.) about bonded (child) labour in the South Indian garment industry.
|Employment or Exploitation: Are suppliers to retailers like Walmart, Carrefour sweatshops? (The Economic Times)
It isn't often that the biggest rivals in the world of retail - Walmart and Carrefour - find themselves on the same side of a negotiations table.
That they did so one afternoon early last month at the old-wordly headquarters of the Southern India Mills' Association, a body of yarnmakers based in Coimbatore that accounts for half of India's yarn exports, is a pointer to the heady challenge facing them and the mills.
|Questions to the President of the European Council by EP Peter van Dalen (Christian Union) on bonded (child) labour of Dalit girls in garment production in EU-based companies (follow-up to questions Jun 14, 2012)
|Students join campaign against exploitation of poor girls (The Hindu)
The ongoing campaign against ‘Sumangali Scheme,’ which is being followed by many textile and spinning units in the western districts of Tamil Nadu that has ruined the health of a few hundreds girls from southern districts, gained significant momentum on Thursday with college students joining hands with the organisations fighting against this system.
| Working in India’s Textile Mills and the Sumangali Scheme
Indian textile mills increasingly rely on young women and girls for labor. Many of the young female workers sign contracts known as the Sumangali scheme. The mills withhold part of their paychecks and then give them a lump sum for a dowry four years later. But if the workers leave before the four years are up, they lose all of the money. Michael May has the story.
|As pressure builds up, TN mills rectify conditions: Netherlands' Campaigners Expose Sumangali Scheme in SA8000 Certified Mills (Textile Excellence)
In yet another international report, the 'exploitive', 'abusive' and 'inhuman' labor practices prevalent in the Indian textile industry has been highlighted. But SOMO and ICN report has also accentuated, how, right under governments' nose, an institutionalized dowry 'scheme' ran
|"Fabrikarbeit ist wie Gymnastik" (Südlink: INKOTA-Dossier)
Die Bekleidungsindustrie lockt Hunderttausends indische Mädchen mit schönen Versprechungen in eine Sklaverei auf Zeit
|Campaign against Sumangali Scheme to be intensified (The Hindu)
|Answers to Questions in European Parliament (subm. Jun 14, 2012) on bonded (child) labour of Dalit girls in garment production of EU-based companies
|‘Maid in India’ - Shocking Findings (GroundReport.com)
|Report cites ‘major labour abuses’ in textile sector (The Hindu)
|Press release 'Bonded (child) labour in Indian garment industry draws global attention' (SOMO/ICN)
|Bonded (child) labour in the South Indian Garment Industry (BahujanIndia.in)
|Bonded (child) labour in the South Indian Garment Industry: An Update of Debate and Action on the 'Sumangali Scheme' (SOMO/ICN)
In a year time, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) have published two major reports documenting the exploitation of Dalit girls in the South Indian garment industry that produces for European and US markets.
This update zooms in on on-going abuses in the Tamil Nadu garment industry, as well as on the debate and actions to tackle the ‘Sumangali Scheme’, that is fuelled by the findings and recommendations of the SOMO and ICN reports.
|Tamil Nadu ‘source’ of sex trafficking: US (The Asian Age)
The US has accused India of being a “source, destination and transit country” for forced labour and sex trafficking. An official report released by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton refers to the Sumangali scheme in TN, in which employers pay young women a lump sum to be used for dowry at the end of a three-year term.
|Tamil Nadu Programme update - Supporting young women workers in the textile and garment sector of Tamil Nadu, India (Ethical Trading Initiative)
Textile and garment manufacturing and production in Tamil Nadu, India, has grown exponentially since the 1980s and now exports globally. An estimated 500,000 people work in the region’s textile and garment industry and women workers are estimated to be about 60% of the workforce, mostly in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs.
Reports by non-governmental organisations such as the India-based Social Awareness and Voluntary Education (SAVE) and Centre for Education and Communication (CEC), the Dutch Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and Anti-Slavery International (ASI) brought to light concerns about labour practices in the region's garment industry, centred around Tirupur. Concerns have been expressed about these practices, particularly for vulnerable migrant workers in schemes known locally as Sumangali or Camp-Coolie.
| Verdammt hoher Preis - Billigmode und die Selbstmordrate bei indischen Arbeiterinnen (Monitor/ARD)
|Slavery On The High Street (Anti-Slavery International)
New research from Anti-Slavery International exposes how top UK high street brands are selling clothing made by girls in slavery in southern India.
You can download the report in the PDF format here, or read the press release.
| The price of cheap clothes? (BBC Radio 4)
A report by Anti-Slavery International claims that Indian textile firms, which supply some of Britain's biggest high street retailers, are operating near slave labour conditions.
|Caste Off (Good.is)
One day in 2007, a stranger came to JJ Nagar village in South India’s Tamil Nadu state, promising girls from the village a chance to change their lives. The man went from house to house offering to sign up any girl over 14 to a three-year term in a yarn factory. At the end of the period, the young women would earn bonuses of $800 (about a year’s salary), an almost unimaginable sum for a girl from JJ Nagar. The village is a six-hour drive from Coimbatore, the state’s second-largest city, but the prosperity of the new India and its almost double-digit growth rate hasn’t arrived here.
|Understanding the Sumangali Scheme in Tamil Nadu's Textile & Garment Industry (Fair Labor Association)
In May 2012, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and Solidaridad-South & South East Asia released a research report on the Sumangali Scheme - the practice of paying young women a lump sum to be used for a dowry at the end of a three-year term. Written by Solidaridad with support from the FLA, this report provides an overview of the Sumangali Scheme, presents stakeholder views, and offers the perspectives of some of the women and their families who are affected by this practice.
|Ausbeutung junger Frauen in der indischen Textilindustrie (FacingFinance.org)
Im April 2012 veröffentlichten SOMO und ICN (beide aus den Niederlanden) einen follow-up Bericht über die Arbeitsbedingungen in der indischen Textilindustrie (Maid in India).
Der erste Bericht (Captured by Cotton, Mai 2011) deckte auf, dass Mädchen und junge Frauen für eine Pauschalsumme auf Basis von drei-Jahresverträgen rekrutiert werden.
|India’s Dalit women and the real cost of fast fashion (Women's Views On News)
|"Maid in India" - Sklavinnenarbeit heute kfb-Partnerorganisation kämpft gegen ausbeuterische Arbeitsbedingungen (Katholische Frauenbewegung Österreichs)
|Dalit women exploited in garment supply chain (Just-Style.com)
|Dutch Parliament adopts motion on full supply-chain transparency (Hivos/Stop Child Labour)
|Saga of ‘Maid in India' (The Hindu)
|Motion Dutch Parliament on full supply-chain transparency and the eradication of child labour in the textile chain