Minimum Wage Violations in Bangalore, India

To:Primary Contacts, WRC Affiliate Colleges and Universities
From:Ben Hensler and Scott Nova
Date:March 5, 2010
Re:Minimum Wage Violations in Bangalore, India

At this link, please find a preliminary WRC report concerning the systematic violation of the minimum wage law by manufacturers in Bangalore, which is one of India’s largest centers of apparel production. The violations involve hundreds of factories, affect roughly 125,000 workers, and have been ongoing since the legal minimum wage was increased one year ago.

Three university licensees, Cutter & Buck, Vantage Custom Classics and VF Imagewear, have reported sourcing collegiate apparel from factories in Bangalore that the WRC has found are not paying the legal minimum wage. However, the problem is much broader and implicates many of the leading brands and retailers in the apparel industry, including Wal-Mart, Adidas, Gap, H&M, JC Penney, Levi-Strauss, Nike, and Phillips Van Heusen, among others.

The problem is both city and industry wide. In response to an increase in the legal minimum wage, implemented by the government of the State of Karnataka, where Bangalore is located, in March of 2009, the garment manufacturers simply have refused to comply with the law.

As a result, roughly a third of Bangalore’s 350-400,000 garment workers are being paid sub-minimum wages. To date, the affected workers have been deprived of more than a month’s wages. The WRC estimates that, in total, Bangalore’s apparel exporters have failed to pay more than $10.5 million in legally mandated wages since the violations began a year ago.

This is the most systematic violation of minimum wage laws that we have encountered in our work around the world. Many of the brands and retailers involved are aware of the problem. However, while these companies all have codes of conduct, and while many of them participate in multi-stakeholder monitoring organizations, none of them have taken any corrective action.

The WRC has communicated with the brands and retailers, including the university licensees, urging them to take swift action to ensure that their suppliers begin obeying the law and provide full back pay to all affected workers.

We will keep you posted as this situation develops.

Scott Nova 
Worker Rights Consortium 
5 Thomas Circle NW 
Washington DC 20005 
ph  202 387 4884 
fax 202 387 3292 
[email protected]