Rights of Indian leather workers systematically violated: Report

New report: Rights of Indian leather workers systematically violated - Footwear & garment brands promise action

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PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                    Utrecht, 15 March 2016
Rights of Indian leather workers systematically violated
Major footwear and garment brands react to serious human rights issues in their leather supply chain and promise collective action
Around 2,5 million workers in the Indian leather industry often face unacceptable working conditions that violate their human rights and seriously affect their health. Toxic chemicals used in tanneries often very negatively impact the health of the workers. Less known are the many labour and other human rights issues in the leather industry like wages below the stipulated minimum wage, child labour, the exploitation of home-based workers, the difficulty to organize in trade unions and the discrimination of Dalits (‘outcastes’).‘Do leather workers matter?’

This is in short the plight of leather workers that is described in more detail in the report: ‘Do leather workers matter – Violating labour rights and environmental norms in India’s leather production’.

The report explores labour conditions in the leather industry that are steeped into deep-rooted social inequalities in Indian society based on caste and gender discrimination. The main pillars of this study are literature research and field research at three production hubs that supply hides, leather, garments, accessories and footwear for export, namely Kolkata, Agra and the Vaniyambadi–Ambur cluster in Tamil Nadu. The report depicts labour conditions in a cross section of production units varying from homeworkers, tanneries, workshops in the informal sector to large modern export units. Of course these conditions do vary between production units.
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A draft version of this paper was initially shared with a wide range of companies and CSR initiatives. In a joint statement 12 member companies of the Ethical Trading Initiative (UK) welcomed the ICN report and said that ‘taken together we recognize the very concerning issues in the leather supply chain’. They also said to agree that ‘there needs to be a collective response to these issues’ and ‘We commit to working with international and national stakeholders to develop a strategic response to the issues in our leather supply chain.’

In total 19 companies, including the 12 ETI members like C&A, H&M, Primark, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Next, TESCO, Sainsbury and Pentland, reacted to the report as well as two CSR initiatives: the Leather Working Group and MVO Nederland (CSR Netherlands). Most companies recognize the urgency to address the issues identified in this research and some shared concrete commitments to combat adverse human rights and environmental impacts in their supply chain.

Read the full press release and the report

Gerard Oonk
director India Committee of the Netherlands
Mariaplaats 4e
3511 LH Utrecht
Email: [email protected]
Tel. 030-2321340
Websites: http://www.indianet.nl/http://www.dalits.nl