Captured by Cotton: Dalit Girls Produce Garments in India for European and US Markets

#1 May 20th, 2011, 22:42
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SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations/Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen) & ICN (India Committee of the Netherlands, or LIW, Landelijke India Werkgroep):

Quote:
"Exploited Dalit Girls Produce Garments in India for European and US Markets. Companies have taken steps, but exploitation remains widespread.

May 20, 2011.

Big garment brands and retailers have their products made under exploitative and unhealthy conditions by girls in Tamil Nadu, South India. The girls, mostly younger than 18 and from a Dalit (‘outcaste’) background are employed under the Sumangali Scheme. In its worst form, this employment scheme stands for bonded labour, as described in ‘Captured by Cotton’, a report published today by SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN). The report features case studies of four large manufacturers: Eastman Global Clothing Exports, KPR Mill, Bannari Amman, and SSM India. These enterprises produce for Bestseller (e.g. Only, Jack &Jones), C&A, Diesel,GAP, Inditex (e.g. Zara), Marks & Spencer, Primark, Tommy Hilfiger, and many other European and US garment companies. A number of companies have undertaken steps towards the elimination of the Sumangali Scheme, but abusive labour practices remain widespread. ..."
... Read full press statement at http://somo.nl/news-en/exploited-dal...nd-us-markets/, resp. http://www.indianet.nl/pb110520e.html.

The full report, "Captured By Cotton," is to be found at http://somo.nl/publications-en/Publication_3673, resp. http://www.indianet.nl/CapturedByCotton.html.
#2 May 20th, 2011, 23:33
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Even Marks and Spencer? Another illusion shattered...

From the regularity with which newspapers publish news about the rescue of bonded labour, there must be more than a little of it about. The last one I saw was a brick builder with, not 500 individual labourers, but 500 families working in this state.

It's slavery, basically.
#3 May 21st, 2011, 00:08
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Thankyou for posting this Mach. I've downloaded it and will read later.
#4 May 21st, 2011, 01:41
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Reminds me of the once thriving Football industry (that worked for big multinational sports gear companies) mainly dependent on thousands of child labours.

BTW, good to see you back here Mach.
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#5 May 21st, 2011, 21:12
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This reminds me of a photo (with associated story) in The Deccan Herald, Bangalore, showing chained labourers in a stone quarry in Karnataka. That was taking the phrase bonded labour a little too literally!
#6 May 21st, 2011, 22:40
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That reminds me of a discussion with Dalit women carrying headloads of dirt at a Rozgar Hami Employment Guarantee Scheme) site in Maharashtra. I asked why they did this fierce task and they replied firmly that it was better than agricultural labor and they didn't have to be raped..
#7 May 21st, 2011, 23:24
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Unfortunately I don't have to look to hard to find a very similar scenario in The Netherlands.
That's not to say this is right of course.
#8 Jun 1st, 2012, 02:32
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#8
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Originally Posted by Klompen View Post Unfortunately I don't have to look to hard to find a very similar scenario in The Netherlands.
That's not to say this is right of course.
Really? That seems unlikely.

What does seem likely is that these massive for-profit corporations will continue to control our lives.
#9 Jun 1st, 2012, 09:35
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Unfortunately I don't have to look to hard to find a very similar scenario in The Netherlands.
That I do not believe unless you can quote chapter and verse. That there might be exploitation in isolated individual cases (mostly illegal labour) I could believe but something structural like this with larger numbers, no way!
"It is preferable to have a criminal for a servant rather than a fool because a criminal's actions are predictable and you can protect yourself against them, whereas there is no telling what a fool's next move will be.
#10 Jun 1st, 2012, 22:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klompen View Post Unfortunately I don't have to look to hard to find a very similar scenario in The Netherlands.
That's not to say this is right of course.
Are you sure what you are are talking about? Recently I've seen a report about this Sumangali scheme, and it's really like slavery. No doubt that for some people the working conditions in some jobs in Europe are no fun at all and inhumane, too, but as long as you're not an illegal immigrant there's a legal way out, but not for these girls.
#11 Jun 2nd, 2012, 10:24
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South Central LA. Look for the buildings with razor wire around them and oddly enough few windows. Life is hard, paradise is in heaven and chances are..
#12 Jun 2nd, 2012, 13:22
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Polish/Latvian workers are regularly denied their rights as workers in The Netherlands, they are at times practically imprisoned in accommodations supplied by the job agency they work for.
One hotel, home to about 60 workers in it's rules stated their workers were not allowed into the village after 8pm in the evening. Punishment was a 50 Euro fine. Smoking a joint in your accomodation (something no illegal in Holland) will fetch you a 50-100 Euro fine..They are often required to work unpaid hours by the boss especially if they are drivers where the 10 - 15 hours or so extra hours they work is nearly always unpaid. Sometimes on finishing a 12 hour shift they will simply be driven to a further 6 hours nightshift. Being sick will get you the sack and often cost you 1 - 2 weeks wages for your transgression, They are stacked in houses sometimes 4 to a bedroom with one shower amongst 12 - 16 people, One place was a shed with 200 beds and three showers. Totally against fire regulations I might add. They sometimes get paid less than the minimum wages and in some cases the boss just decides not to pay them at all. A girl that was working with me for 7 weeks got three weeks money, and that was given grudgingly after she had completed her time there, she argued all the while with the boss as she was supposed to be paid weekly, in the office administration she wasn't even down as working where she was but at another factory some 10 miles away, so a fiddle going on somewhere. She had to whistle for the rest. They are sometimes bound to 50 hour contracts which is illegal too. They are denied basic rights like unemployment benefit as they aren't allowed to have legal standing in the Netherlands by Gemeente. They won't register them as they have no rental contract. Which means it's hard to get signed up for anything.
Their medical insurance is grouped and only their boss can organised a doctor, which they are also very difficult about, with people often having to wait days or even a week to see a doctor and that after pestering the agency they work for who try to fob them off.. Holiday/overtime money is often withheld too under all manner of silly pretenses..
If you are sacked by the boss you are required to leave the housing immediately, regardless if you have the wherewithal to get home. Not too long ago they found a group of 17 polish workers living rough in a forest. All had been working but lost their job, they had no funds to get home.
Another group working with me were coming to work exhausted as their central heating/hot water was broken took 10 days to fix it and that after their departmental head via the office made a LOT of noise that his workers were really suffering (it was minus 12C at the time) and unable to perform their work..
This is not the story of all foreign workers but over the last 10 - 20 years, my wife and I have seen enough instances to say the practices are wide spread.
20 years ago when they were illegal the story was even worse, fined half an hours wages when smoking on the field, to the point of receiving just 2 hours wages for a full days work. This was only apparent after three weeks work of course, as the boss said nothing at the time.
Two Polish doctors who were working as chamber maids demanded their money after 3.5 months work, they were racially abused by the boss and told he wouldn't pay them a cent as they had been stealing from the rooms.

We persuaded them to go to the police even though they were in Holland illegally, They did and the police to their honour accompanied them to the hotel and told the guy in no uncertain terms he had to pay them. They were deported the next day but with their wages they had worked so hard for. and my wife have experienced enough of these stories to know that it happens to many many people, too many.
Dutch society is perfectly aware of these problems, yet it makes no headlines here..In the UK the story is even worse.

So not slavery but institutionalized abuse and denial of basic rights

Also until a few years ago it wasn't unusual to see 14-15-16 year old kids in factories, amongst lots of dangerous machinery and in some cases being worked like dogs (lifting 20 kilo boxes all day at the rate of one every 10 seconds) thankfully this is less of a problem these days.

I remember one guy being handed a shovel and taken to the bosse's septic tank...Only in India, nah I guess not.

The Netherlands isn't all windmills, liberal thinking and coffeeshops I'm afraid.
#13 Jun 2nd, 2012, 13:48
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Quote:
We persuaded them to go to the police even though they were in Holland illegally, They did and the police to their honour accompanied them to the hotel and told the guy in no uncertain terms he had to pay them. They were deported the next day but with their wages they had worked so hard for. and my wife have experienced enough of these stories to know that it happens to many many people, too many.
Dutch society is perfectly aware of these problems, yet it makes no headlines here..In the UK the story is even worse.

So not slavery but institutionalized abuse and denial of basic rights
Poles and Latvians do not require an EU work permit since may 2011, previous to that date they were in all probability in the Netherlands illegally (assuming they were not self employed) and hence knowingly placed themselves in a position where they could be exploited and had limited recourse with the authorities, assuming they did not want to be deported. Not that I condone the exploitation.

But they could walk out any time they wanted so as you say yourself, it's not slavery.

It's really very simple: if you come over without paperwork, without a valid contract, no rental agreement....then you're setting yourself up for abuse. And yet, when they go to the authorities, those intervened. Not exactly comparable to the situation depicted about India.
#14 Jun 2nd, 2012, 14:08
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Ah I see it's their own fault, not a uncommon statement I hear in The Netherlands.
These workers are sourced in Poland and bused over, it is from here the abuse begins, they have a contract but it's terms are often ignored by agencies.. and the housing is supplied by the agency but they are simply guests, they have no paperwork, hence a difficulty in getting legality..
All they are guilty of is wanting to work and for their efforts they are ripped off and abused..

Authorities intervening don't make me laugh the polish doctor story was a isolated one in the 90's, mostly there's nobody willing to help with the problems of unpaid hours, bad housing, denial of medical help and monies withheld. They just have to take it on the chin. And most of them have a very bad opinion of The Netherlands and Dutch people, as their co workers adopt very much the same stance as you, it's their own fault they came here to work.

Wrong! as Europeans they have every right to expect their basic rights be honoured..

Dillichaat I can see this all came as a total surprise to you, but this is how it is for thousands of Polish workers, ripped of and abused with no one interested in helping them..
Sad indictment of the country, I'll no doubt have some more stories to tell as I'm being forced into working for a polish agency this coming season.

It's not as serious as the India story but The Netherlands is a supposedly modern liberal country which is supposed to provide rights for all, the truth is that's not happening for many in the work place..
#15 Jun 2nd, 2012, 14:41
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#15
Quote:
Ah I see it's their own fault, not a uncommon statement I hear in The Netherlands.
These workers are sourced in Poland and bused over, it is from here the abuse begins, they have a contract but it's terms are often ignored by agencies.. and the housing is supplied by the agency but they are simply guests, they have no paperwork, hence a difficulty in getting legality..
All they are guilty of is wanting to work and for their efforts they are ripped off and abused..
They were there illegally. Once again, that doesn't justify the abuse. But if you knowingly go stand and smoke a cigarette in a room awash with gasoline and suddenly wake up in the burn ward, is it your fault, the fault of the guy who dumped the gasoline or just a case of shared responsibility?
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