Already reeling because India's garment manufacturing industry was included on the US Department of Labor's updated EO 13126 list, the country's apparel exporters suffered another blow last week when The Observer revealed details of an investigation that uncovered significant worker abuses at Indian "sweatshops."
According to the article, some of Britain's biggest retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Gap and Next, are using suppliers who pay workers pennies an hour and force them to work up to 16 hours a day in factories.
From the article:
The Observer spoke to workers from some of the factories involved. House of Pearl produces clothing for Gap and Next. Jawal Hussain, 24, who works in the House of Pearl factory, said that in June he worked 133 hours overtime on top of his normal eight-hour shifts, all at the basic single rate of pay. He pocketed a total of 6,100 rupees ($129). He and many of his fellow workers are hired through a contractor, which is responsible for paying them. "There were two or three people who objected to the overtime and they were beaten up and now they have left the company," he said.
He said they started at 9am and regularly worked through to 10pm with two half-hour breaks, though sometimes they would go through to 2am the next day and be expected to return again later in the morning.
Marks & Spencer, Gap and Next told The Observer that problems like these had already been detected by their own auditing processes, and that they have taken action to tackle them. The retailers reaffirmed their commitment to ethical trading and to strict ethical standards for workers, but it appears from this investigation that more much more needs to be done . . . and that companies need to thoroughly exercise due diligence when gauging labor and operating conditions in India.