Exploitation of migrants

Hundreds of thousands of migrants are employed throughout the garment and textile supply chains around the world. They are subjected to many of the same abuses that local workers encounter. However, these abuses are compounded by the specific contexts in which migrant workers work.

 

The garment industries of Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan, for example, have long depended on migrant workers from neighbouring countries. Newer garment factories that have set up shop in the Middle East often employ Asian migrants.

The upheavals in war-torn zones are also being exploited: hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees work in the Turkish garment factories.

Migrant workers are also increasingly found in garment factories located in Europe, the US and Australia. Brands and retailers depend on tight turnaround times and low transport costs for their “fast fashion” lines, so many of them have decided to source this production closer to their consumer markets. But they still want the garments delivered at the low prices of the Asian or African industries, which means their suppliers often end up employing migrant workers.

Many migrants are desperate for better wages since they can barely make ends meet as and many of them also have debts to pay off to family members, recruitment agencies, labour brokers, or traffickers. Many cannot work legally due to strict asylum or immigration policies in the host countries while legal workers often risk losing their legal status upon dismissal. Migrant workers live in constant fear of arrest or deportation; many don’t even dare leave the factories or their dormitories.

Despite the repressive conditions, many migrant workers do manage to take action. Burmese refugees working in garment factories on the Thai border have been involved in filing legal cases and regularly go on strike against their employers. In Mauritius, migrants from China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have engaged in numerous industrial actions for better pay and working conditions.

 


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Latest publications on migrant workers in the garment industry

Results: 19 Items

  • April 15, 2020

    Forced labour and debt-trap: migrant workers in Japan face substantial risks during coronavirus outbreak

    Report on migrant garment workers in Japan’s state-supported Technical Internship Training Program (TITP) are subjected to widespread labour violations including poverty pay, debt bondage, enforced overtime, and inadequate and crowded living and working conditions. Fears grow for their safety during Coronavirus outbreak.

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  • April 15, 2020

    Made In Japan report

    Report on migrant garment workers in Japan’s state-supported Technical Internship Training Program (TITP) are subjected to widespread labour violations including poverty pay, debt bondage, enforced overtime, and inadequate and crowded living and working conditions, and fears grow for their safety during the Coronavirus outbreak.

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  • November 12, 2019

    Syrian Workers in Turkey's Garment Industry

    Looking Back, Moving Forward. An in-depth look at the problems facing Syrian refugees in the informal Turkish garment industry. The report finalizes with a conclusion of solution strategies on individual level, state regulations and global industry level, and finally, a set of coordinated multi-level approach recommendations.

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  • August 29, 2019

    Exploitation of migrants

    Hundreds of thousands of migrants are employed throughout the garment and textile supply chains around the world. They are subjected to many of the same abuses that local workers encounter. However, these abuses are compounded by the specific contexts in which migrant workers work.

    More →


  • January 26, 2018

    Labour Without Liberty - Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry (abstract)

    [January 2018] Female migrants employed in India’s garment factories supplying to big international brands like Benetton, C&A, GAP, H&M, Levi’s, M&S and PVH, are subject to conditions of modern slavery. In Bangalore, India’s biggest garment producing hub, young women are recruited with false promises about wages and benefits, they work in garment factories under high-pressure for low wages. These are some conclusions from the report ‘Labour Without Liberty – Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry’ - published by the Indian Garment Labour Union, the India Committee of the Netherlands and Clean Clothes Campaign

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  • January 26, 2018

    Labour Without Liberty - Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry (full report)

    [January 2018] Female migrants employed in India’s garment factories supplying to big international brands like Benetton, C&A, GAP, H&M, Levi’s, M&S and PVH, are subject to conditions of modern slavery. In Bangalore, India’s biggest garment producing hub, young women are recruited with false promises about wages and benefits, they work in garment factories under high-pressure for low wages. These are some conclusions from the report ‘Labour Without Liberty – Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry’ - published by the Indian Garment Labour Union, the India Committee of the Netherlands and Clean Clothes Campaign

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  • January 26, 2018

    New report: false promises and restriction of movement in production for Western garment brands

    Female migrants employed in India’s garment factories supplying to big international brands like Benetton, C&A, GAP, H&M, Levi’s, M&S and PVH, are subject to conditions of modern slavery. In Bangalore, India’s biggest garment producing hub, young women are recruited with false promises about wages and benefits, they work in garment factories under high-pressure for low wages. Their living conditions in hostels are poor and their freedom of movement is severely restricted. Claiming to be eighteen at least, many workers look much younger.

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  • January 18, 2017

    Invisible workers - Syrian refugees in Turkish garment factories

    Thousands of Syrian refugees work long hours in Turkey’s apparel factories in unhealthy conditions with salaries below the minimum wage. Despite Turkey being an important sourcing market for the Nordic brands H&M, KappAhl, Lindex, Gina Tricot and Varner (BikBok, Cubus, Carlings et al), the companies are not doing enough to prevent discrimination of Syrians in their supply chains, according to this report by Fair Action and Future in our hands published in January 2017.

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  • January 18, 2017

    Nordic fashion brands need to tackle abuse of Syrian refugees in Turkish garment factories

    Thousands of Syrian refugees work long hours in Turkey’s apparel factories in unhealthy conditions with salaries below the minimum wage. Despite Turkey being an important sourcing market for the Nordic brands H&M, KappAhl, Lindex, Gina Tricot and Varner (BikBok, Cubus, Carlings et al), the companies are not doing enough to prevent discrimination of Syrians in their supply chains, according to a report by Fair Action and Future in our hands.

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  • November 3, 2016

    CCC statement on the use of Syrian workers in high street supply chains

    Clean Clothes Campaign welcomes the attention received by the recent BBC Panorama investigation into the exploitation of Syrian refugees, including children, within the supply chains of major European clothing retailers. We are calling on the Turkish government, the European Union and all major clothing brands to make sure adequate protections are in place that guarantee full respect of the rights of Syrian workers that will continue to be employed in the production of our clothing.

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1 - 10 of 19 Results