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Workers held captive in Indian mills supplying Hugo Boss

According to a recent report in the Guardian, evidence of worker confinement has been found in the supply chain of luxury fashion retailer Hugo Boss.

One of the company’s suppliers in southern India, Best Corporation, has been accused of several transgressions, including: refusing to allow its female workers to leave its factory on their own free will; banning workers from having cell phones or only permitting telephone calls under managers’ supervision; and the denial of independent inspections by local labor and human rights organizations.

Hugo Boss acknowledged that forced labor was a concern within its supplier base. In that report, the company says it knew of no instances of grievances filed related to human rights violations – but Hugo Boss did not report any third-party human rights reviews, either. The problems Hugo Boss and other fashion companies have confronted in India have long been a drag on the reputation of the country’s garment sector. NGO, India Committee of the Netherlands, reported a year ago that various forms of human rights abuses at factories, including forced labor and child slavery, were found in over 90 per cent of spinning mills across the country’s southern region. The majority of these people were teenage girls and women between the ages of 14 and 18; and anywhere from 10 to 20 per cent of them were younger than 14. Of the almost 750 mills surveyed, a standard working week was over 60 hours long. In addition, only 39 of those mills paid the locally mandated minimum wage and only 10 of them had any trade union presence.