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Tribunal to detail injustices done to garment workers
Despite the economic importance of this industry, garment workers receive less than half of what is needed to support their families. Decent wages and good working conditions are the fundamental rights of garment workers, but they are denied to them.

AN ALLIANCE of sixteen trade unions is holding the first-ever National People's Tribunal on Living Wages for Garment Workers in Bangalore from November 22-25, which will be witness to testimonies and experiences of garment sector workers regarding various aspects of their living and working conditions.

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Indian textiles industry is pegged at US$ 55 billion; accounts for 14% of industrial production and 4% of GDP. The industry employs 3.5 crore people and accounts for nearly 12% share of the country's total exports.

During 2010-2011, readymade garments (RMG) accounted for almost 45% of the total textile exports. The National Capital Region, Tirupur and Bangalore contribute between 55% to 60% of the total exports from India. The textile sector, especially the export-oriented sector, in India is reviving fast from the recent global economic crisis, which engulfed most of India's export markets.

However, despite the economic importance of this industry, garment workers receive less than half of what is needed to support their families. Decent wages and good working conditions are the fundamental rights of garment workers, but they are denied to them.

An independent jury panel of eminent persons from different walks of life will examine the testimonies, presentations and submissions and give a public verdict. The purpose of the Tribunal is to make available to the jury, different perspectives about the garment industry from diverse stakeholders. Its mission is to raise awareness regarding violation of fundamental human rights as it receives no institutional recognition or response, whether at national or international level.

In an environment of subversion of constitutional governance and an absence of a functional national institutional/ regulatory framework, the nature and extent of these violations will sought to be identified and quantified in legal terms. The Tribunal will focus on the following key seven major areas that impact the lives of garment workers.

Inadequate implementation of labour laws

Impact of low wages on workers' lives

Inhuman productivity targets which lead to violation of core labour standards

The rampant use of illegal contract labour systems

The requirement of a living wage

The Freedom of association within factories and the impacts on unionization

Understanding corporate social responsibility and its failure in impacting the workers.

The Tribunal will be attended by workers from various garment factories across India. Workers will give detailed testimonies on working conditions in factories making merchandise for various transnational/ multinational buyers and brands such as Gap, Next, Adidas, Puma, H&M, Nike and Marks & Spencer. There will also be expert presentations regarding the state of the Garment Industry, the relevant Governance framework and laws related to the Garment Industry in India.

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