February 19, 2007
Indian supplier of Euro/US Brands Gags Rights Activists
Court denies Indian labour organizations right to speak about working
conditions in garment factory
Amsterdam, February 19, 2007
The court of the City Civil Judge at Bangalore ruled today to impose a
restraining order on five Indian labour organizations that had spoken out about
problems at a garment factory producing for top European and US brands, the
Clean Clothes Campaign and the India Committee of the Netherlands report
A temporary restraining order had already been in place since 28 July 2006,
when the owner of the Fibres and Fabrics International (FFI) and Jeans Knit
(JKPL) factories sought to legally silence the Garment and Textile Workers'
Union (GATWU), Women Garment Workers Front (Munnade), Civil Initiatives for
Development and Peace (CIVIDEP), New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), and
Clean Clothes Campaign Task Force in India from sharing information on rights
violations at FFI.
Since May 2006 the Clean Clothes Campaign and the India Committee of the
Netherlands have publicly supported the workers and labour organisations to
improve the labour conditions and labour relations at FFI and JKPL.
FFI, producing for international brand name companies, including Ann Taylor,
Armani, Gap, G-Star, Guess, Mexx, and RaRe, has a history of workers’ rights
violations. Workers´ testimonies collected by the local trade union GATWU
document wide-ranging violations of workers´ rights and human rights in the
FFI and JKPL production units during 2005 and 2006. The violations included
harassment and abuse of workers, arbitrary termination of services without
following due legal process, and absence of proper safety measures. An
independent fact-finding committee consisting of local human rights
organisations and social activists has backed up these claims.
The restraining order issued today is a heavy blow to the fundamental right to
freedom of speech and freedom of association in India. “Instead of engaging in
a constructive dialogue with the local organizations to resolve the outstanding
problems, FFI management went to court to silence them,” said Esther de
Haan, coordinator of the CCC International Secretariat. “At the same time the
intimidation of FFI workers continued, with some workers being forced to
resign. Continuously workers are reminded that their organizing is not going to
be accepted by their bosses”.
This order is preventing workers’ organizations from reporting violations of
workers’ rights. Ashim Roy, President of GATWU and General Secretary of NTUI
believes that “the grounds for constraining our freedom of expression are not
proper and reasonable, and not consistent with the constitution, and its
interpretations given by the Supreme Court of this country with respect to the
freedom of expression. In deference to the judiciary, we will abide by this
order but shall immediately appeal against it in the High Court of Karnataka.”
“The union has always stood for negotiated settlement of issues and even now
suggest to FFI/JKPL to engage in dialogue with workers' organisations to resolve
issues” said Jayaram, vice-president of GATWU.
In January FFI also threatened to take legal action against Dutch organizations
working on this case. The Clean Clothes Campaign and the India Committee of
the Netherlands continue to call for FFI to enter into a mediated dialogue with
the Indian organizations to resolve the problems at the factory. The CCC is in
an ongoing dialogue with FFI/JKPL’s clients about their role in resolving rights
violations at their supplier.
For more information on FFI/JKPL, see
The Clean Clothes Campaign is an international network of trade unions and
NGOs that aims to improve conditions and empower workers in the global
The India Committee of The Netherlands is an independent non-governmental
organization, based on solidarity with deprived groups in Indian society.