Nine Months’ Back Wages for Workers at Collegiate Supplier in India (Suditi Industries)
|WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
|Ben Hensler and Manodeep Guha
|February 5, 2024
|Nine Months’ Back Wages for Workers at Collegiate Supplier in India (Suditi Industries)
Please find here a new report on the WRC’s investigation and remediation of violations at Suditi Industries’ garment factory in Navi Mumbai, India. Until this factory closed last year, it was the manufacturing location for collegiate apparel that Suditi supplied to the licensee, Camp David, through Suditi’s subsidiary, In Time Knits. Suditi, itself, holds licenses for domestic sales in India from the NBA and from the Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and FC Barcelona soccer teams.
The WRC initiated our investigation at the request of affiliate universities, after they were informed by an industry auditor that it had found indications of serious violations at the factory but had not been able to fully assess them. As our report details, what followed was a classic case of how far some factory owners, including some who produce collegiate apparel, will go to conceal—and avoid correcting—violations of worker rights.
The WRC not only documented the serious violations that the previous audit had identified, but also found other severe labor rights abuses that inspection had missed. Despite the factory owners’ persistent dishonesty, the WRC was able to achieve substantial remediation, including securing compensation averaging more than nine months’ wages each, for workers who had been illegally underpaid, as well as ending production of university goods at a truly dangerous facility.
The violations that the WRC uncovered at the factory included, but were not limited to:
- Payment of subminimum wages and failure to pay overtime and legal benefits to workers who were secretly employed at the factory, through illegally unregistered labor subcontractors, off the company’s rolls; and
- Serious occupational health and safety hazards throughout the factory, including, but not limited to, life-threatening fire safety risks (see details in our report).
The factory management resisted the WRC’s recommendation for a fire safety inspection by a competent engineering firm. Instead, Suditi attempted to avoid correcting its hazardous conditions by presenting the WRC with obviously bogus fire safety certificates. Suditi also tried to deny the very existence of the workers whose employment it had attempted to hide—and to whom it had not been paying minimum wages, overtime, and other legal benefits. However, the WRC recorded video footage of these workers entering and exiting the factory premises confirming their presence.
After the WRC insisted that these workers must be fully compensated for the factory’s having underpaid them, Suditi then presented the WRC with records purporting to show this compensation was paid. However, the WRC discovered that this claim was bogus as well and that the factory had paid the workers only token amounts (no more than five percent of what they were legally owed).
After the WRC continued to press the factory to both compensate these workers and undergo a valid fire safety inspection by a competent engineering firm, Suditi’s owners suddenly announced that they were closing and moving production to another state in India. Suditi claimed that the move was not related to the deficiencies the WRC had identified.
Since, even though the factory closed, the university code violations related to underpayment of workers still needed to be corrected, and since Suditi’s owners were clearly untrustworthy, the WRC requested that the licensee, Camp David, provide funds to compensate the former employees. Camp David, to its credit, agreed. In late 2023, all the former workers who had been underpaid and could still be contacted received full compensation—an average of about USD 1,455 per worker, more than nine months’ wages each.
Camp David told the WRC that it will no longer use In Time Knits or Suditi as suppliers. The WRC continues to recommend that, should Suditi seek to reopen this factory, no products should be manufactured there, whether for a university licensee or any other buyer, unless the facility has first been inspected by a competent safety engineering firm and all needed renovations have been completed.
As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.