It is estimated that around 500,000 workers work in this industry in almost 1200 factories in and around Bangalore. Most of the leading multinational brands like H&M, GAP, JC Penny, ZARA and Next source from this city. Ninety percent of the garment workers in Bangalore are  women who are mostly migrant workers from rural Karnataka or neighbouring states, with little education.

Working Conditions

The garment sector has come under severe criticism for the appalling working conditions prevailing in a large number of production areas. The most apparent violations of labour and human rights in this sector include:

  • Denial of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
  • Unreasonably high production targets
  • Harassment and verbal abuse of women workers to extract higher productivity
  • Low wages

Projects

From Modern Slavery to Self Reliance

In the last few years, the garment industry in Bangalore has seen a steady rise in the number of migrant workers from North Indian states. These workers are housed in hostels by the employing companies under conditions akin to modern slavery. Their mobility is severely limited, and they are subject to abuse both at the factory and the hostel. The fact that these young women are outsiders with no knowledge of the local language and little or no social capital makes them especially vulnerable. They are not able to advocate for their rights effectively, and are often not even aware of what these rights are.
The purpose of this project is to map the background of these workers, the places and circumstances they come from, the conditions they live and work under in Bangalore, and the violations of their rights with regard to wages, working conditions, health and safety (including freedom from harassment and abuse) and living conditions. A Worker Resource Centre will provide access to legal and personal counseling, as well as an opportunity to interact and build relationships with local workers in an otherwise difficult or even hostile environment.

Statutory crèches in garment factories in Bangalore

Cividep did a research study Taking Care of Business on presence and effectiveness of statutory crèches in garment factories in Bangalore. This study was commissioned by Fair Labour Association (FLA), USA. Under this project Cividep also held a consultation with stakeholders to discuss the issues related to childcare in this industry. The consultation was jointly organized by Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR), Samvada, FLA and Cividep India.

Garment Sector Rountable Bangalore

Cividep is a part of the Garment Sector Roundtable (GSR) which took shape in early 2011 with an aim to initiate multi-stakeholder dialogue. GSR comprises of major brands, manufacturers and representatives from the government, trade unions, NGOs, MSIs and independent researchers. The Multi-Stakeholder group meets bi-monthly to facilitate dialogue on contentious issues. There are two ongoing projects as a result of GSR – a Women Supervisory Training Programme (WSTP) to train women workers to become supervisors and a Joint Fact Finding on labour shortage in the garment industry. Cividep’s participation and contribution in GSR is supported by Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).

Women Garment workers in Distress

Due to a number of suicide attempts by women workers and continuous harassment in garment factories. Cividep engaged in a study to analyze the oppressive and exploitative working conditions vis-à-vis gender. It is a qualitative study on the gender aspect of working conditions of garment workers that captures case studies of harassed and distressed workers. This study is facilitated with the financial support of Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).

Reduce violence against women (VAW) in export-oriented garment factories in India

This is a project where Cividep cooperates with Fair Wear Foundation with an aim to reduce harassment of women garment workers in their factories. Cividep trains factory managers, supervisors and workers to sensitize them about harassment issues faced by women workers. Moreover, Cividep helps factories of FWF member brands to set up functional anti-harassment committees and operate a complaint hotline that workers can call to submit their complaints without fear of being identified by the management.

Feasibility and Impact of Labor Voice Connect

Cividep did a pilot study with Labor Voices from USA to demonstrate the feasibility and impact of LV Connect – an application that facilitates real time monitoring of working conditions in global supply chains. This pilot tested the messaging, surveying and reporting capabilities of the application where garment workers called a number through their mobile phones and were connected to a voice menu to answer pre-set questions. This was the first of its kind pilot to check usage of technology (mobile phones) to source data.

Improving Livelihood of Cotton and Textile Supply Chain workers 

Cividep started its work in the garment industry in Bangalore in 2002 with the support of Oxfam Great Britain. Cividep conducted a number of workers training on their rights and entitlements. A resource center was opened in one of the garment manufacturing areas in the city to provide assistance to garment workers including legal aid in cases of dispute with the management. The project was completed in December 2011.