Organisations call for transparency in working conditions in textile mills

The Tamil Nadu Alliance, a coalition of civil society networks working in the area of textiles in the State, has called upon textile brands and retailers to sign a declaration that will improve the working condition of labourers in textile mills in the State.

The Alliance, which was established in 2017, represents over 100 grassroot organisations.

According to a press release, it called on brands and retailers to do more to abolish exploitative working conditions within textile mills in Tamil Nadu. International brands and retailers that source yarn and fabric from the textile units here should take steps to address “severe exploitation in their textile supply chain.”

With more than 2,000 mills employing approximately 2.8 lakh workers, spinning units in the State are a vital source of jobs. “Yet, for many years, civil society groups have documented exploitative practices occurring within textile spinning mills in Tamil Nadu. Excessive and involuntary overtime, extremely low wages, physical and sexual violence and restriction of freedom of movement – many of which are indicators of forced labour - are known to occur in some parts of the industry,” said a press release from the Alliance.

“To date, there has been limited action by international brands and retailers to identify and address rights violations like these that are taking place beyond tier-one of their supply chain. A widespread lack of transparency and visibility of conditions in textile processing and manufacturing sites has hindered civil society efforts to work with brands to improve the situation of workers in the industry,” it added.

The Tamil Nadu Declaration, developed by the Alliance, highlights the need for sustained action by brands and retailers to address exploitative practices in textile spinning mills.

It urged the retailers and brands to expand supply chain transparency to all textile manufacturing facilities, support the effective implementation of labour laws and protections in Tamil Nadu, adopt sustainable sourcing and purchasing models that promote decent working conditions throughout the supply chain, integrate worker-driven approaches to monitor compliance with labour standards and support the development of a collective grievance mechanism in the State.

As textile production resumes in the wake of COVID-19, workers are more vulnerable to exploitative practices, including forced labour. “Through the Declaration we are calling on brands to work with us as the Tamil Nadu Alliance to build a stronger, more sustainable textile sector. Collaborative action between business and grassroots civil society is essential to support the industry to ensure the effective protection of textile workers’ rights,” the Alliance said in the press release.

Tamil Nadu Alliance in partnership with the Freedom Fund and Fashion Revolution, has reached out to more than 60 international brands and retailers sourcing from textile mills in Tamil Nadu to encourage them to sign up to the Declaration.

As a first step, it asked signatory brands to publicly disclose a list of textile manufacturing sites in the supply chain and support policy implementation efforts to protect mill workers rights. A list of companies that sign the Declaration will be published soon on the Tamil Nadu Declaration website, the Alliance said.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 4:00:41 AM |

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