India country report

Insights into working conditions in India’s garment industry

This report presents selected findings of research into the garment industry in India. The primary purpose of the study was to investigate the factors leading to labour shortage and labour turnover in the industry. Then some additional questions were included in the survey instruments covering a number of indicators of forced labour, in order to investigate whether any such practices were prevalent in the workplaces surveyed.

This report presents findings of research on the garment industry in India conducted by the Garment Sector Roundtable (GSR), with the support of the ILO, in 2012-13. The main purpose of the GSR study was to investigate labour shortage and turnover, but some additional questions were included by the ILO to explore whether any practices associated with forced labour were prevalent in the factories surveyed. A quantitative survey covered 432 workers, and 32 other key stakeholders were interviewed, including government, employers, trade unions and labour recruiters.
The surveys produced many insights into working conditions in the sector. Four-fifths of workers reported having to work more hours per day or days per week than was agreed at recruitment. Fewer than four in ten had received a written employment contract, and less than half of them fully or partially understood its content. One in five people worked 7 days a week and a quarter worked more than 10 hours per day on a regular basis. Overtime was very common, often involuntary, and unpaid in some cases. A widespread culture of disrespect of workers by their supervisors prevailed; use of insulting language and scolding was very common. But, positive aspects were evident too. Workers relied heavily on their income, and wages were always or most often paid regularly and on time for about nine in ten workers. Most workers were registered for social security schemes and half had on-site health care facilities. More than two-thirds of respondents had worked for 3 years or more in the garment sector. But more than four in five asserted they could not move on to better jobs because they lacked skills or because there were no other jobs. Although the majority (65%) of workers said they “liked” working in the industry, more than half sometimes or often thought about leaving their factory or the garment sector altogether.