A Closer Look Into India’s Garment Industry Working Conditions

In a recent report presented regarding few selected findings of research into India’s garment industry, several factors leading to labor shortage and labor turnover in its industry were revealed.

Also, a part of the said report includes some questions covering several indicators of forced labor so as to investigate whether any such employment practices were prevalent in the workplaces surveyed during the research.

During the report conducted by the Garment Sector Roundtable (GSR), through the support of the ILO in 2012 to 2013, which presents findings of research covering India’s garment industry, 432 laborers and 32 other key stake holders were interviewed for the quantitative survey. Participants include the government, employers, trade unions and labor agencies or recruiters.

Generally, the main purpose of the study was to investigate the industry’s labor shortage and turnover. However, additional questions have subsequently included by the ILO to determine whether any practices linked with forced labor were rampant in the factories surveyed.

Surprisingly, the said survey gave a number of insights into working conditions in the industry. In fact, four-fifths of workers claimed having to work more hours per day or per week than was initially agreed during the recruitment. Overtime is likewise common and often times, it is involuntary and comes unpaid. One out of five laborers worked 7 days a week and quarter of them worked more than 10 hours a day on a regular basis. Also, less than four out ten employees has received a written employment contract and less than half of them fully or at least partially understood its content. A culture of disrespect of workers by their immediate supervisors is prevalent, which is commonly characterized by use of insulting language and scolding.

Nevertheless, on a positive note, laborers relied extensively on their income. Thus, their wages always come regularly and on time for about nine out of ten laborers. In addition, most workers are registered for social security programs, while half had on-site health care facilities.

The report likewise stated that two-thirds of the research’s respondents had worked in the garment sector for more than 3 years. However, more than four out of five claimed that they could not move on to better jobs due to lack of skills or because there were no other jobs. Although, at least 65 percent of laborers said they like working in the sector, more than half of them still sometimes or oftentimes thought about leaving the either the sector or the industry altogether.