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Published on Friday, 23 November 2012

Human rights trial for workers

Written by Stacey Dove

INDIA – Garment workers, clothing brands, trade unions and government representatives gave evidence at a tribunal in Bangalore this week, India to assess human rights, harassment and wage issues.

 The independent jury included national and international specialists on international labour standards, economists, senior journalists, International Labour Organisation representatives and Permanent People’s Tribunal members and will assess whether textile workers in India earn a ‘living wage’.

The ‘National People’s Tribunal on the Right to a Living Wage’ was organised by the International Asia Floor Wage Alliance, in collaboration with workers’ rights groups and trade unions. It is the third tribunal of its kind held on issues in the garment industry, with the first held in Sri Lanka in 2011, and the second held in Cambodia earlier in 2012.

 Tobias Fisher, Relations Sustainability Manager for H&M, told the tribunal: “We agree that wages should be enough to live on. We are working with our suppliers to ensure compliance on this.”

 Despite invitation and recent high profile campaigns against the company by labour rights groups, Gap were absent from the tribunal.

 Presentations were given on laws related to the garment industry and testimonials were provided by workers on their working conditions and wages.

 Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator at the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, said: “Despite the economic importance of the industry, garment workers earn less than half of what is needed to support their families. Living wages and decent working conditions are human rights but they are denied to garment workers,” she said.

Findings and recommendations to stakeholders will be presented at a press conference on Sunday 25 November.



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