Indian garment workers earn 11p an hour, says US study

brett mathews | 1st February 2019

CALIFORNIA – What is claimed to be the most comprehensive study of its kind claims all apparel brands sourcing from India are impacted by child and forced labour issues. The research claims women and girls from the most marginalised communities are working for as little as 15 cents (11p) per hour in homes across India, with child labour and forced labour rife and wages regularly suppressed.

The research by the University of California assessed conditions facing home-based garment workers, whose work often involves applying the final touches to a garment, including embroidery, tasseling, beadwork and buttons.

“Every major brand, every boutique retailer and everyone in between who sources garments form India is touched by this issue,” said Siddharth Kara, the report’s author. While the report does not name brands specifically, the vast majority of home-based workers, 85 per cent, said they worked exclusively in supply chains for clothing shipped to the US or EU.

The report claims around one in five home-based garment workers in India are aged 17 and under, based on interviews with 1,452 workers. The youngest individual interviewed was 10 years old, although researchers claim they actually witnessed dozens of younger children. None belonged to a trade union or had a written contract.

“Imagine you’re earning 13, 14, 15 cents an hour. Then imagine your payments are not even on time, they’re delayed by a month or two. Then imagine you’re given an order that’s going to take you five days to complete and you don’t complete it on time and you’re not paid,” said Kara.

The report claims almost all workers – 99 per cent – were subject to conditions of forced labour under Indian law, which means they did not receive the state-stipulated minimum wage, and in most cases, workers received only a tenth of the minimum wage.

It adds that payments were often late, with many workers reporting that they had been penalised for not completing hefty orders on time.

Full report HERE