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.
In a report titled ‘Behind The Showroom: The Hidden Reality of India’s Garment Workers’, the NGO called for international brands that procure garments from these factories to leverage their influence to ensure respect for workers’ right and to ensure that they are able to claim their rights.’ Also, it has called upon the Indian law enforcement authorities to adopt necessary legislative and policy changes to address the situation.
“Whenever foreign buyers and NGOs visit the factories, they deploy show-responses to give a feel that the working conditions are extremely good. But our interviews with former employees and local NGOs indicate that there are many human rights abuses in the factories,” said Michelle Kissenkoetter, head of Asia, FIDH.
She said the NGO had visited five factories in the States of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and spoke to former employees, as many of the present workers were not willing to speak to them fearing repercussions.
Marion Cadier, programme officer, said, since a majority of the workers in the factories in Tamil Nadu were women, exploitation was more serious. “Most of the factories have stopped the Sumangali schemes after much criticism from civil society. But similar schemes exists in different names,” she said.
A Aloysius, managing director of SAVE, a Tirupur-based NGO, working for the welfare of the textile workers, said the factories must focus on reducing the working hours of the workers as it extends to 12 hours most of the days. “The scheme of accumulating the wages of the workers is viewed as beneficial by the workers too. But what we want is that the amount be deposited in a fixed deposit accounts in the names of the workers. If employers hold back lump sums, it reduces the capacity of the workers to demand their rights,” he said.