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June 14, 2007

Dutch campaign organisations summoned to Indian court in alleged defamation case

Jeans manufacturer tries to silence its critics

Amsterdam, June 14, 2007 – Following their efforts to draw attention to rights violations at an Indian garment factory, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) have been summoned to appear in a Bangalore court on June 25, 2007. The Dutch organisations, who have been raising awareness of violations at international jeans suppliers Fibres and Fabrics International and its 100% subsidiary Jeans Knit Pvt Ltd (FFI/JKPL), are accused of cyber crime, acts of racist and xenophobic nature and criminal defamation.

This is the first time that a factory has filed suit against the CCC and the ICN for publishing information on working conditions in the garment industry on their respective websites. Interviews with workers from the factories carried out in November 2005 and March 2006 revealed serious labour rights’ violations, including high workload, forced overwork, physical and psychological abuse, non-payment of overtime, and the non-issuance of identity cards and contracts. These claims were backed up by a fact-finding mission of 7 human rights’ and women rights’ organisations who completed a report in August 2006.

Despite the charges, the two organisations are continuing their support for the workers in FFI/JKPL.

FFI/JKPL filed the defamation complaint against the CCC and ICN after having taken legal action to silence the unions and local labour support organisations advocating on behalf of the FFI/JKPL workers. Since July 2006 the Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU), the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), the Civil Initiative for Peace and Development (CIVIDEP), the Women Garment Workers Front Munnade and the CCC Task Force Tamil Nadu have been under an injunction order prohibiting them from distributing information about the working conditions at FFI/JKPL inside and outside India.

“Suing all human rights organisations that report about working conditions in the garment industry in Bangalore will not solve anything,” said Esther de Haan , of the CCC International Secretariat and one of the accused. “What we demand of FFI/JKPL is to finally start a dialogue with the union GATWU and other local organisations in order to develop a normal industrial working relationship in which any labour rights issue can be discussed and solved.”

FFI/JKPL produces for international brand name companies such as G-Star, Mexx, Gap and Armani. CCC and ICN continue to call upon the brands sourcing from FFI/JKPL to take a public stand against FFI’s behaviour against both local and international worker’s (support) organisations.

Others accused of defamation and summoned to appear before court in June are the internet providers Antenna and Xs4all.

For additional details on the summons CCC and ICN received and the campaign 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 garment industry.

The India Committee of The Netherlands is an independent non-governmental organisation, based on solidarity with deprived groups in Indian society.