Clothing companies H&M, Inditex, C&A and PVH have committed to improving the lives of workers in India’s southern city of Bengaluru, after a report said employees lived in appalling conditions and were denied decent wages and freedom of movement.
Gap Inc, which also sources apparel from Bengaluru, did not respond to the report by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), according to a statement by the Dutch non-governmental organization late on Thursday.
A draft of the report, Unfree and Unfair, was presented to the companies in November last year.
The conditions of garment workers in South Asia have come under sharp scrutiny following the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, in which 1,135 workers were killed, many of them employed by suppliers to Western retailers.
The report said hostels run by the Bengaluru factories lacked basic amenities such as beds and clean water, while workers earned between 95 euros and 115 euros (US$104 and US$125) per month, just above the official minimum wage of 93 euros to 103 euros.
Bengaluru, a hub for apparel exporters, is also known as India’s Silicon Valley for its numerous information technology companies, and draws migrants seeking better economic prospects from its home Karnataka State, as well as from neighboring Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and the country’s north and east.
There are an estimated 1,200 garment factories in and around Bengaluru, making apparel for large global brands.
Many of the workers are women from poor backgrounds who do not know the local language and are unaware of their rights, making them more vulnerable to exploitation, according to the report based on interviews with 110 migrant workers at four garment factories in the city.
“Global companies have a responsibility to ensure better conditions for the workers, as they are directly benefiting from their labor,” Raphel Jose, vice president of supply-chain sustainability at the Center for Responsible Business in Bengaluru, told reporters.
“This is an area where the brands can come together and collaborate with a local agency and pressurize the industry to improve conditions,” Jose said.
Dutch clothing retailer C&A, Swedish retailer H&M and Spain’s Inditex, which owns the Zara and Massimo Dutti brands, are to work together and liaise with local trade unions to provide training and address workers’ grievances, ICN said.
Inditex is to evaluate the state of workers at its suppliers and factories across India, while PVH Corp, which owns brands including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, is developing new guidelines for its suppliers, the organization said.
“If the brands commit to these issues and their plan of action, we expect that considerable progress can be made in addressing the working and living conditions of young migrant garment workers in Bangalore,” it added.
RETAIL BANKING EXIT: Clients are concerned whether their rights would be protected, while employees were caught by surprise as the bank had just upgraded its services Citibank Taiwan Ltd (花旗台灣) yesterday said that credit card clients could continue using their cards as operations would continue normally until it sells its consumer banking business. As of February, the bank had 2.86 million credit cards in circulation in Taiwan, of which 2.17 million had been used in the past six months, ranking it sixth among all banks, data from the Financial Supervisory Commission showed. Credit card spending by Citibank clients totaled NT$15.66 billion (US$552.6 million) in February, also ranking sixth among banks in Taiwan. Citibank was the only foreign bank that made it into the top six. Customers should not
NO MONEY LAUNDERING: Banking Bureau Deputy Director-General Lin Chih-chi said transactions of more than NT$500,000 conducted in cash would need to be reported The Financial Supervisory Commission is to set up new money laundering regulations for the nation’s cryptocurrency exchanges from July 1, requiring them to report transactions valued at more than NT$500,000 (US$17,770), the commission said yesterday. The move came after the Executive Yuan earlier this month demanded that the commission establish regulations to prevent money laundering in the cryptocurrency industry. The cryptocurrency industry includes local trading platforms for cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrency wallet providers and firms that conduct security token offerings, the Executive Yuan said. The commission plans to require cryptocurrency exchanges to report any transaction of more than NT$500,000 conducted in cash, or an equivalent
PANDEMIC EFFECT: Chromebook shipments in the first quarter more than tripled from a year earlier, driven primarily by educational institutions in North America Despite a semiconductor shortage, global PC shipments in the first quarter of this year increased 32 percent from a year earlier, preliminary data from research firm Gartner Inc showed. Shipments in the January-to-March period totaled 69.87 million units from 52.93 million units a year earlier, Gartner said in a report on Monday last week. The quarterly increase in shipments marked the fastest annual growth since it began tracking the PC market in 2000, Gartner said. “This growth should be viewed in the context of two unique factors: comparisons against a pandemic-constrained market and the current global semiconductor shortage,” Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa
TREASURY REPORT: A US government report urging the central bank to curtail its foreign-exchange intervention, coupled with soaring exports, might lift the NT dollar The New Taiwan dollar yesterday posted its biggest daily advance since December last year after a report by the US Department of the Treasury last week hinted that US President Joe Biden’s administration could exert greater pressure on Taiwan’s central bank to allow the local currency to appreciate. The NT dollar rose 0.5 percent to close at NT$28.205 against the greenback, and was emerging Asia’s best-performing currency for the day. While the Treasury report on Friday did not label Taiwan as a currency manipulator, it said the US would initiate “enhanced bilateral engagement” to address what it considers as “structural undervaluation”