For over a decade, Cividep has been working closely with the Bangalore garment industry, which has an estimated 500,000 workers in nearly 1200 factories. Most leading multinational brands like H&M, C&A, M&S, GAP, JC Penny, ZARA and Next source ready-made apparel from the city. At least eighty percent of garment workers are women, usually little-educated migrants from rural Karnataka and neighboring states like Tamil Nadu.
The international branded apparel sector has been in the spotlight for poor working conditions in its supply chains. In India, the southern production hubs of Bangalore and Tirupur have been under scrutiny for labour and human rights violations, which include
- Denial of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
- Unreasonably high production targets
- Harassment and verbal abuse of women workers, usually to extract higher productivity
- Low wages
To address these concerns, Cividep focuses on analyzing working conditions and barriers to decent work, creating labour rights awareness through training, providing legal assistance to workers and guiding dialogue between stakeholders.
From Modern Slavery to Self Reliance
Issue: Vulnerability of long distance migrant workers
Focus: Mapping recruitment practices and improving hostel conditions
In the last few years, the garment industry in Bangalore has seen a steady rise in the number of migrant workers from northern states. These workers live in hostels contracted or maintained by the employing companies, with severe restrictions on their movement. Since these workers are usually young, with no knowledge of the local language and little social capital, they are isolated and often vulnerable. This makes it challenging to ensure that their rights are protected, and to interact with local unions agitating for workers’ interests.The purpose of this project is to map the socioeconomic background of migrant women workers, their place of origin, factory and hostel experiences in Bangalore, and any violations concerning wages, shopfloor conditions, health and safety (including freedom from harassment and abuse) and hostel arrangements. A Worker Resource Centre provides access to legal and personal counseling, as well as an opportunity to migrants to interact with local workers in an otherwise difficult environment.
Women’s Supervisory Training Programme (WSTP)
Issue: Lack of capacity among women workers to participate in supervisory roles
Focus: Organising WSTP to impart leadership skills
Cividep was a part of the Garment Sector Roundtable (GSR) which took shape in early 2011, with the aim of initiating dialogue between various garment industry stakeholders. The GSR comprised major brands, manufacturers and representatives from the government, trade unions, NGOs, MSIs and independent researchers. As an outcome of the GSR, Cividep is engaged in a Women’s Supervisory Training Programme (WSTP) to train women workers to undertaking supervisory roles on the shopfloor.
Reduce Violence against Women (VAW) in Export-oriented Garment Factories in India
Issue: Shopfloor harassment of women workers
Focus: Sensitisation of floor managers and capcity building for internal complaints committees
Cividep, in cooperation with the Fair Wear Foundation, has undertaken a project aiming to reduce the shopfloor harassment of women garment workers. Cividep attempts to sensitise factory managers, supervisors and workers on harassment issues faced by women workers through training programmes. Additionally, Cividep assists suppliers of FWF member brands set up functional anti-harassment committees, and operates a safe complaint hotline for workers to report harassment.
Statutory Crèches in Bangalore Garment Factories
Issue: Lack of functional crèches in the workplace
Focus: Needs assessment and collaboration with stakeholders to establish crèches
In 2012, Cividep carried out a study, Taking Care of Business
, on statutory crèches in garment factories in Bangalore. This study was commissioned by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), USA. In the same year, Cividep organised a consultation with various stakeholders to discuss issues related to childcare in the industry, in collaboration with the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR), Samvada, and the FLA.In 2015, Cividep carried out a needs assessment of garment workers’ childcare needs in collaboration with FEMNET Germany. This was followed by a project to upgrade existing factory crèches and collaborate with brands and suppliers to establish functional crèches in other units, in keeping with national and state law. The project was supported by BMZ.