Challenges of home-based workers in India

Tainted Garments: The Exploitation of Women and Girls in India’s Home-based Garment Sector, by the Berkeley Blum Center for Developing Economies, brings a new perspective to the conversation on home-based worker and forced and child labour in India.

For us, this is a starting point to drive dialogue and the collaboration we need to find common paths to fight the problem of child labour in India

- Anindit Roy Chowdhury, Programme Manager for Labour Rights, C&A Foundation

In a complex and fragmented apparel supply chain, with many levels of sub-contractors, the use of home-based workers is extensive and not well documented.  This means that key actors like regulators, businesses and civil society don’t always have enough information to secure workers' rights.

C&A Foundation funded an investigation into the working condition of home-based workers, which was carried out by Siddharth Kara, of the Berkeley Blum Center for Developing Economics. The report, Tainted Garments, shines a light on both the challenges and solutions to issues facing home-based workers in India.

C&A Foundation believes that transparency and relevant, actionable data are key to drive change and create the collaboration needed to make fashion a force for good. "Siddarth Kara’s findings and point of views on this matter bring a lot of important insights to us and other organisations fighting to end child and forced labour. For us, this is a starting point to drive dialogue and the collaboration we need to find common paths to fight the problem of child labour in India,” says Anindit Roy, C&A Foundation Programme Manager for Labour Rights. 

Tainted Garments: The Exploitation of Women and Girls in India’s Home-based Garment Sector

The Indian garment industry is the second largest manufacturer and exporter in the world. The sector formally employs 12.9 million individuals directly, and it indirectly employs millions more in informal, home-based settings.

According to the research, home-based garment workers in India consist almost

entirely of women and girls from historically oppressed ethnic communities. Home-based garment worker earn approximately $0.15 per hour and research indicates that 99.2% work in conditions of forced labour under Indian law.  Interviewees started that fear of not being paid, cultural barriers and lack of other employment options, are among some of the reasons why they keep working in these conditions.

Tainted Garments offers 10 recommendations to address the exploitation of women and girls in India’s home-based garment sector, including developing a high-level public-private partnership focused on ensuring that labor exploitation and child labor are eliminated from India’s garment sector, forming a home-based garment worker union, and increasing and enforcing minimum wages.

Read the full report.