BSCI supports better rights for Indian women at work

20-05-2011

BSCI is engaged with Indian stakeholders to protect the rights of young female workers and prevent abuses generated by the implementation of Sumangali scheme. The Sumangali scheme is a practice in which young women – often coming from rural areas - are recruited to work in the textile factories and spinning mills for a fixed term contract. In this practice, which is closely linked to Indian culture and mostly prevalent in spinning mills in Tamil Nadu, the employer retains a part of the monthly wages, which are to be given as a lump sum for marriage expenses (dowry) at the end of the contract. Although in some factories, workers are treated well; in others labour abuses have been identified, these are mostly been related to compensation and forced labour. These labour abuses have been highlighted in a recent report published by the Dutch NGO SOMO and ICN. BSCI continues to engage its member companies to identify sustainable solutions to this practice and provide safe and fair working conditions for Indian women. Such a complex issue requires collaborative work; we have alerted members and auditors on the issue and shared specific recommendations through our guidance paper on Sumangali. We also identified the need to increase cooperation between brands and regulatory authorities in the country and therefore supported a multi-stakeholder Round Table in India in January 2011. The outcome of this meeting was positive and reinforces our strategy to continue political dialogue and engage with international and local stakeholders to raise awareness of this issue among Indian suppliers.

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