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3 Mär 2022

Jasmin Malik Chua, Sourcing Journal

India: Kitex Garments 'categorically' refutes allegations of migrant workers being treated as 'bonded labourers'

"Kitex Garments Exec Disputes ‘Slave Labor’ Allegations", 3 March 2022

Kitex Garments “categorically” refuted allegations that its migrant workforce is being treated as “bonded laborers.”

The India-based garment manufacturer...told Sourcing Journal that all its workers are “free to come and go as they choose when not working” and that any suggestions to the contrary are “false.”

Kitex took issue with a report, published last month by the All India Lawyers Association for Justice following a violent skirmish between workers and police that led to the arrest of more than 170 people over Christmas. The “fact-checking” investigation blamed “dismal” living conditions in “labor camps” on factory premises for stoking tensions among its lower-caste employees, many of whom hail from far-flung regions such as Assam, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and don’t speak the local language...

But Donnie Hodge, president and COO of Kitex’s U.S. arm, said the police report showed no such complicity with Kitex executives. He also disputed the characterization of its in-house facilities, which include housing, dining and medical and are provided free of charge to any of its 12,500 workers who choose to utilize them. “We are very proud of [them],” he said.

Hodge noted that more than 90 independent audits have been conducted at Kitex over the past five years, including four in the past two months alone.

“None of them have revealed the alleged issues,” he said. “We pride ourselves on our ethical standards including operating with full transparency and we are proud of our ongoing track record in compliance.”...

...Kitex...boasts the highest standards of any manufacturer in the world, Hodge said. He said the company seeks to be completely transparent and both auditors and its customers have complete access to its facilities and workers.

“We take very seriously our commitment to our trusted brands, partners, customers and employees and will continue to uphold the highest ethical standards in the industry,” he added.