The verdict of a tribunal to assess human rights abuses faced by workers in the Indian garment industry was announced today in Bangalore.
Judges found overwhelming evidence of ‘grave and systematic violations of individual and collective human rights’ suffered by garment workers and called for immediate action to be taken by a variety of stakeholders.
The verdict follows a two day hearing in which over 250 garment workers from Gurgaon, Tirupur and Bangalore gathered to give evidence pointing to the fact that a living wage and decent working conditions are a pressing necessity in the industry.
“You end up like a machine working on a machine,” said Akshay Kumar, 36-year-old garment worker from Gurgaon, speaking of what it feels like to cope with inhuman production targets in bad working conditions.
The judges verdict focused on the pressing necessity for a living wage to be paid to workers, and gave evidence of its status as a human right that must be addressed. It further acknowledged the prevelance of illegal compulsory overtime, inhuman productivity measures, systematic denial of social security payments, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and active suppression of the right to freedom of association in the industry.
The judges were also keen to stress that multinational brands must acknowledge their complicity in the rights violations described. This statement came in resonse to evidence presented by representatives from the fashion brand H&M who had attended the tribunal on Thursday – the brand had focused its submission on speaking about training suppliers to take more responsibility for upholding rights.
Judges also gave recommendations for action to be taken by Indian governent, state officials and labour officers, trade unions, ILO, international brands, national companies and suppliers.