Columbia, H&M, Accused of Ignoring Egregious Abuses at Indian Factory

A recent report compiled by the Worker Rights Consortium alleges that workers at a factory employed by H&M, Abercrombie, Benetton, and Columbia are regularly beaten and threatened while on the job.

As detailed by Quartz, the report says that “from late March through mid-April, managers at a Bangalore factory owned by Shahi Exports… brutally repressed attempts by workers to unionize and stifled an increase in the workers’ wages,” a process that included “physical beatings; death threats; gender, caste, and religion-based abuse; threats of mass termination; and the expulsion from the factory of 15 worker activists.”

Because we live in a world where this type of information can be easily shared with corporate management, the WRC did just that. But because we also live in a world full of awful people, that information was ignored and “the brands have continued to work with the company.”

For their part, Shahi Exports — who “claim to be India’s largest clothing manufacturer” — has denied the allegations, calling the investigation “one-sided” and noting that the police had investigated the situation and found no evidence of wrongdoing. WRC claims, however, that the police were actually present for some of the abuse, so they’re maybe not the most reputable source on this one.

The list of brands that Shahi supplies outside of the four at the Unit Factory includes American Eagle, C&A, Gap, H&M, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Puma, PVH Corp. (owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger), Tesco, Uniqlo, VF Corp. (owner of Vans and others), and Walmart, among others.

All of the brands above — with the exception of PVH and Uniqlo — issued statements, but none have pulled their business.

You can read more about it at Quartz.

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