The labour conditions in Indian textile is now on a wide check, taking the example of Apple Inc, which tackled poor wages and working conditions at the factories of its partner Foxconn in China after criticism from consumers among others.
Following the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, in which 1,135 workers were killed, many of them employed by Western brand suppliers; the conditions of garment workers in South Asia have come under sharp scrutiny. In India, legislation exists against bonded labour and child labour, but enforcement is weak.
Mona Gupta, a senior official at India’s Apparel Export Promotion Council feels, the industry has the most invisible supply chain. It is also mostly unorganised, which makes it harder to map and regulate. Domestic consumers should raise their voice. If they insist on buying only ethical products, that will bring pressure on manufacturers.
According to the International Labour Organisation, 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally, while the Global Slavery Index says there are 36 million slaves in the world, half of them in India. As per estimates the domestic market accounts for more than 40 per cent of the industry’s revenue. Hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises use forced labour and treat workers poorly, with abuses ranging from withheld salaries to debt bondage.