Finally a report from an NGO has something positive to say about Indian apparel industry… Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) India Country Study 2016, a report of 56 pages, states that there is no child labour in the garment industry of the country now as compared to the year 2000. Similarly there is no discrimination either on the basis of religion or caste, and women get ‘equal pay’ for ‘equal work’ as men.
“During the FWF audits, evidence of forced and/or bonded labour is difficult to find and is mostly linked to forced overtime,” the report says. Though the report also says that there is violation in the area of occupational health and safety. The FWF audit was conducted in apparel manufacturing hubs like Delhi, Noida, Tirupur and Karnataka between 2013 and 2016. Though during the time of audit, it was found that 2-3 factories employ workers who are 15 to 18 years old.
In the north it was observed that the second most recurrent violation is the lack of internal and formal means of communication, followed by the absence of legal contracts. In the south, the second highest number of violation is in the area of payment of wages, followed by the lack of internal and formal means of communication. “Most workers are actually hired through recommendations of fellow workers or contractors, who help recruit workers from their native villages,” it further added.
The report stresses on increasing the activities of labour department as it figured out, “The Department of Labour in Noida only has 12 labour inspectors who, in 2015-2016, carried out 21 inspections at 964 garment factories in the region.”
FWF has been active in India from past 13 years and its 40 members (mostly those in fashion and sportswear) source from more than 160 Indian factories. Of these factories, 45 per cent are located in north India, while 55 per cent are based in south India. FWF provides training through its Workplace Education Programme (WEP). In next four years its strategic partnership activities in India aim to combat low wages and violence against women, and enhance social dialogue.