Indian women textile workers endure “forced labour”

Women LabourFemale textile workers in mills in southern India are enduring horrific working conditions which amount to “forced labour”, according to a report from two pressure groups.

‘Flawed Fabrics’ was compiled by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) after interviewing some 150 workers at five textile mills in Tamil Nadu.

According to the report, women and girls – some as young as 15 – are mainly recruited from marginalised Dalit communities in impoverished rural areas, are forced to work long hours for low pay, and live in company-owned hostels and rarely allowed out.

The report says the five mills, Best Cotton Mills, Jeyavishnu Spintex, Premier Mills, Sulochana Cotton Spinning Mills and Super Spinning Mills, supply Western companies and Bangladeshi garment factories, with customers including C&A, Mothercare, HanesBrands, Sainsbury’s and Primark.

SOMO researcher Martje Theuws said: “Business efforts are failing to address labour rights violations effectively. Corporate auditing is not geared towards detecting forced labour and other major labour rights infringements.

“Moreover, there is a near complete lack of supply chain transparency. Local trade unions and labour groups are consistently ignored.”