Profits craving brands beget factory workers of India exploited

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At the onset of global trade war between USA and China, the retailers of famous fashion brands are shifting their sourcing destinations from China to the other top suppliers, who are from Asia like Bangladesh, Vietnam and India. But the hunt for profit maximization is paving the path of exploitation in these countries, especially in India.

The $34.4 billion of global export of textile and clothing of this country is standing on the hard work without sustainable compensation of its labor, of whom are mostly women. In a recent BBC report, it was exposed that the female workers living in southern India are open to verbal and physical exploitation by their factory owners. This part of India is a hub of apparel manufacturing industries.

Figure: The factory workers live in poverty in rural southern India. (Courtesy: BBC)

The workers have repeatedly reported that they are paid less than the minimum wage scale. A payslip shows the wage per day is not more than £2.50.

The story does not end here. Women working at a Ralph Loren supplier said, “We’re made to work continuously, often through the night, sleeping at 3am then waking up by 5am for another full day.” The bosses are alleged to be bothered by production only, not the workers.

One woman said, “We don’t get toilet breaks, we don’t get time to drink water on shift. We barely get time to eat lunch.” A manager is appointed to watch over during canteen time and blow whistles for sending them back on work.

Another employee said, they are forced to do overtime and never released to home until extra work is done.

Stuffs work in a scary environment as they are yelled at at any mistakes and be threatened to be fired every now and then. This creates apathy to their work.

According to a study made by Siddhart Kara of University of California, Berkeley, the Indian garment workers make only $0.13-$0.15 per hour. The UK brands like Tesco, Sunsbury, Marks & Spencer; and, the USA brands like Carter’s, Ralph Lauren, Gap, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Arrow are fishing out such low wage and low infrastructure zones in purpose of scaling up their profit. This is why they put significantly less attention to the poor workers’ living standard and working environments. Although it is just $0.20 to increase per T-shirt to make up a living wage for these oppressed people.

By India’s Factories Act, no worker should exceed more than 48 hours a week (or 60 hours with overtime), nor should they be made to work for more than nine hours in one day. The complaint seems to be a violation of the act.

On the other hand, the BBC said, the three UK supermarket chains were shocked in response to the allegations. They ensured to work on the remedy of any such issues especially on excessive working hours.

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