Labour violations & abuses rampant among suppliers of large international garment brands

Media articles cite a report by the Research on Multinational Enterprises (SOMO) concerning labour abuses in mega textile factories in India that supply to large international fashion brands, including four Spanish companies: Inditex (Zara and Bershka), El Corte Inglés, Cortefiel and Carrefour, among others.

Violations include: Child labour; limited freedom of movement; long hours of work and demanding working environment; lack of contracts; lump sum payments; denial of right of association; and lack of transparency.

Articles are linked below. The article in El Confidencial (Spanish) also includes statements from the four companies named above.

 

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Article
13 April 2015

Latin America: 27 million workers in economic zones subjected to labour exploitation; factories involved supply products to Spanish garment brands

Author: Brais Benitez, La Marea

"27 millones de personas son víctimas de explotación laboral en las 'maquilas'", 13 April 2015

…[T]rabajo en condiciones insalubres y sueldos míseros. 27 millones de personas en todo el mundo trabajan en las denominadas Zonas Económicas Especiales, conocidas coloquialmente en América Latina y el Caribe como maquilas. Según los datos difundidos por la ONG, las mujeres constituyen más del 50%, y en algunos casos el 90%, del empleo en estas enormes fábricas, donde confeccionan prendas de vestir y otros productos textiles. …Las trabajadoras de estas mega factorías textiles en la India, algunas con apenas 15 años de edad, perciben una media de 1,3 euros al día por jornadas laborales de 68 horas semanales, en un ambiente insalubre y con ausencia de prestación en caso de enfermedad. Según publicó El Confidencial, citando un informe del Centro de Investigaciones sobre Empresas Multinacionales (SOMO, por sus siglas en inglés), estas fábricas suministran productos a grandes firmas de moda internacionales, entre ellas cuatro españolas: Inditex (Zara y Bershka), El Corte Inglés, Cortefiel y Carrefour España. … Además, la diferencia salarial entre hombres y mujeres es mayor a medida que los salarios son mayores, y los trabajadores varones copan los puestos de mayor responsabilidad y, por tanto, tienen un sueldo mayor. … Los salarios percibidos por las empleadas en países como Nicaragua, Honduras y Guatemala no alcanzan para cubrir los mínimos vitales.

Translation by Google Translate

"27 million people are victims of labor exploitation in the 'maquilas'", 13 April 2015

…[W]ork in unhealthy conditions and miserable salaries. 27 million people around the world work in the so-called Special Economic Zones, known colloquially in Latin America and the Caribbean as maquilas. According to the data released by the NGO, women constitute more than 50%, and in some cases 90%, of employment in these huge factories, where they make garments and other textile products. …The workers of these textile mega factories in India, some with only 15 years of age, receive an average of 1.3 euros a day for 68-hour workweeks per week, in an unhealthy environment and with no benefit in case of illness . As published by El Confidencial, citing a report by the Center for Research on Multinational Enterprises (SOMO), these factories supply products to large international fashion firms, including four Spanish companies: Inditex (Zara and Bershka), El Corte English, Cortefiel and Carrefour Spain. …In addition, the salary difference between men and women is greater as salaries are higher, and male workers hold positions of greater responsibility and, therefore, have a higher salary. …The salaries received by employees in countries such as Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala are not enough to cover the minimum living.

*Sourced by RepRisk due diligence on ESG and business conduct risks, www.reprisk.com.

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Article
4 February 2015

India: Report cites four large Spanish garment brands re slave work in mega factories

Author: Jose Lobo, El Confidencial

"Trabajo esclavo en la India: cuatro grandes empresas españolas están en la 'lista negra'" 4 February 2015

Salarios de 1,3 euros diarios por 68 horas de trabajo a la semana, sin contrato, en un ambiente insalubre, sin derechos básicos como la prestación en caso de enfermedad o la afiliación sindical, en régimen de privación de libertad…son empleadas en condiciones que rozan la esclavitud por megafactorías textiles que suministran sus productos a las grandes firmas de moda internacionales, entre ellas las españolas Zara y Bershka (Inditex), El Corte Inglés, Cortefiel y Carrefour España. …No son las únicas. Gigantes como Primark, Calvin Klein, Benetton, Walmart, Mothercare, H&M, C&A o Timberland. …Un portavoz de Inditex aseguró a El Confidencial que "no existe la relación mencionada en el informe de ninguno de nuestros proveedores con Super Spinning Mills. …Por su parte, fuentes de El Corte Inglés señalaron que esta empresa "trabaja activamente para fomentar y garantizar el cumplimiento de los derechos humanos y laborales en las empresas proveedoras. …Un portavoz de Cortefiel señaló que la compañía "rechaza cualquier forma de trabajo que sea contraria a los derechos humanos", y aseguró, sin mayores precisiones, que "la verificación externa de nuestros proveedores es la mejor del mundo". Carrefour España, por su parte, rehusó ofrecer su versión.

(English translation by Google Translate):

"Slave work in India: four large Spanish companies are on the 'blacklist'" 4 February 2015

Salaries of 1.3 euros per day for 68 hours of work per week, without a contract, in an unhealthy environment, without basic rights such as sickness or union membership, in a regime of deprivation of liberty…young women, who…are employed in conditions that border on slavery by textile megafactories that supply their products to the big international fashion firms, among them the Spanish Zara and Bershka (Inditex ), El Corte Inglés, Cortefiel and Carrefour Spain. …They are not the only ones. Giants such as Primark, Calvin Klein, Benetton, Walmart, Mothercare, H & M, C & A or Timberland. …An Inditex spokesperson told El Confidencial that "the relationship mentioned in the report of any of our suppliers with Super Spinning Mills does not exist." …El Corte Inglés pointed out that this company "actively works to promote and guarantee compliance with human and labor rights in supplier companies." …A spokesman for Cortefiel said the company "rejects any form of work that is contrary to human rights," and assured, without further details, that "the external verification of our suppliers is the best in the world." Carrefour Spain, for its part, refused to offer its version. 

 *Sourced by RepRisk due diligence on ESG and business conduct risks, www.reprisk.com.

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Article
7 October 2014

India: SOMO report on the abuse of women workers in textile mills that supply big garment brands

Author: Center for Research on Multinational Enterprises (SOMO)

"Flawed Fabrics: The abuse of girls and women workers in the South Indian textile industry", October 2014

This report highlights serious labour rights and human rights violations faced by girls and young women employed in the Tamil Nadu spinning industry in South India, which is a major hub in the global knitwear sector, supplying some of the big name clothing brands – including C&A, HanesBrands, Mothercare and Primark. ...This research found girls and young women to be working at the five mills in conditions amounting to forced labour.

Child labour

...60 per cent were below the age of 18 when they joined the mill.

Limited freedom of movement

...Staying in the factory hostel is mandatory for workers who come from other districts or villages....

Long hours of work and demanding working environment

...[E]mployees must work for 60 hours a week or more, all year round. Overtime cannot be refused. Night shifts are equally obligatory....

No contracts

...Workers do not know what they are signing up to, if they get to sign anything at all. Workers do not get payslips....

Lump sum payments

...[M]ills recruit workers with the promise of paying them a lump sum amount at the end of their contract....

Right of association

...[F]reedom of association is...a dead letter for the women workers....

Lack of transparency

Buyers hardly provide any information about where they are sourcing from.

*Sourced by RepRisk due diligence on ESG and business conduct risks, www.reprisk.com.

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