India: Report highlights failure of audits to identify major labour rights risks in leather footwear supply chain

Author: Homeworkers Worldwide, Published on: 2 October 2019

"Due diligence in Tamil Nadu leather footwear manufacture", September 2019

This report summarises key findings from a collaborative due diligence process in leather footwear manufacture in Tamil Nadu carried out by Homeworkers Worldwide [HWW] and Cividep India, in conjunction with two ETI-member companies and Dalit Solidarity Network. The major labour rights risks identified include:

  • Barriers to Freedom of Association and anti-union attitudes
  • Health & safety hazards...
  • Low wages...
  • Excessive, often involuntary overtime
  • Potential barriers to employment and promotion to supervisory grades facing Dalit/Muslim women
  • Irregular employment of factory workers employed on a daily/contract or piece-rate basis, and of homeworkers employed to carry out hand-stitching through informal sub-contract chains

Internal mechanisms for workers to raise grievances or discuss conditions with their employers were poor or absent...Some issues had been identified in factory audits, but many...were invisible to them. 

To tackle these issues companies sourcing leather footwear from Tamil Nadu need to collaborate with local civil society in further due diligence and implementation. Recommendations are made for Brands, suppliers, ETI and Governments...

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