Dutch retailers paying 'starvation wages' to Indian textile workers - report

Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:31pm GMT

By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Dutch fashion retailers are paying "starvation wages" at factories in a major hub for the global garment industry in southern India, forcing many workers into crippling debt, a report on Tuesday showed.

Workers surveyed at 10 garment factories in and around Bengaluru in the southern Indian state of Karnataka took home on average 90 euros (£77.5) a month, and 70 percent were in debt, the report by four non-profit organisations said.

The factories were supplying Dutch brands that have "acknowledged the importance of living wages".

They included Coolcat, G-Star, The Sting, MEXX Europe, McGregor Fashions, Scotch & Soda, Suitsupply, WE Fashion and C&A. The C&A Foundation partners with the Thomson Reuters Foundation on trafficking and slavery coverage.

"Workers cannot properly support their families with this wage," said the report, "Doing Dutch", co-authored by Clean Clothes Campaign, the India Committee of the Netherlands, Asia Floor Wage Alliance and Cividep India.

"Food and housing, usually a one-room apartment without a water tap and with a shared toilet outdoors, are the biggest expenses. Almost everyone would like to buy healthier and more varied food, but is unable to do that because of low wages."

Responding to the report, companies have said they were putting procedures in place to overcome the challenges with regard to wages, overtime payment, working hours, creche and hostel facilities for workers.

The $40 billion (£30.7 billion) Indian textile and garment industry, much of which operates in the informal sector and is poorly regulated, employs an estimated 45 million workers.   Continued...

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