Indian mill supplying Hugo Boss, holding workers captive!


What is luxury, if not keeping to the utmost standards? Well, luxury brand Hugo Boss have found cases of modern slavery within one of its Indian mills. It is has been reported that women are being held captive and not allowed to leave!

Hugo Boss, says it has been working to resolve this matter. I know it is not as easy to just find another ethical mill, but isn't it? A brand which has such great clout and purchasing power is really able to throw their weight about when it comes to there mills adhering to ethical practices surely?

The Guardian investigation found that Best Cooperation based in Tamil Nadu southern India, who also supplies; Next and Mothercare have been keeping young workers in confinement, under their housing policy which is widespread in that area. On the basis of protection of the young ladies, but it is basically house arrest for up to four years for these garment workers, with no to little contact with the outside world, as calls and mobile phones are not allowed or are monitored by wardens in some of these factories, even prisoners here have greater rights! The UN special rapporteur on contemporary slavery, Urmila Bhoola, said restricting the movement of female workers had serious consequences.

“One must understand that restricting the young women workers’ movements increases their vulnerability immensely unless other measures are taken,” said Bhoola. “They are vulnerable upon recruitment and kept invulnerability during employment. They are also vulnerable to sexual harassment and other forms of abuse by male employees overseeing their activities during their trips outside the hostels and also at the workplace.”

When these retailers were asked to comment on this matter, 

Mothercare', Global Head of Corporate Responsibility Amy Whidburn said

“We have had positive response from workers and seen a significant improvement over time,” 

Debenhams said it was looking into the allegations.

Next, totally denied that anything problem with worker confinement existed in its supply chain.

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) said international retail brands had to find more effective ways of using their influence to eradicate the potential for labour abuses in the region.

“Southern India is an exceptionally challenging and sensitive environment when it comes to improving workers’ rights, particularly the rights of young women workers,” said Martin Buttle, category leader for apparel and textiles at ETI. “We recognise that poor conditions and restrictions on freedom of movement exist in mill-owned hostels, and a lot still needs to be done.”

But what will the consequence be? Companies and brands that have supply chain misconduct must be subject to some form of penalty or punishment. It is great that they many are working towards making things better, but lets put a mandate on it and a penalty. I am sure if profits were on the line, companies would be quicker to resolve supply chain issues.