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Textiles: Working Conditions

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what work his Department is undertaking to alleviate poor working conditions for textile and clothing workers in (a) India, (b) Pakistan, (c) Cambodia, (d) Vietnam and (e) Laos. (205686)

The Department for International Development (DFID) supports the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) which assists companies seeking to improve the conditions of workers in their supply chains. ETI’s member companies include leading garment retailers such as Gap Inc, Marks and Spencer, Monsoon, New Look and Zara which source a large proportion of their garments from India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. These retailers have all committed to working with their textile and garment suppliers to improve working conditions for workers making their products.

In India, ETI is supporting the National Homeworkers Group which aims to improve the conditions of homeworkers involved in embellishing fabric, such as adding embroidery or beads. Thousands of homeworkers in villages in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s poorest regions, have received training in health and safety, record keeping and improved access to insurance and healthcare. They have reported greater confidence and awareness of their rights.

DFID India has in the recent past provided small-scale support through the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to women weavers in Rajasthan, with the aim of encouraging the state government to improve their working conditions. A programme to be introduced later in 2008 will support the ILO in promoting decent work in India. This may include support to textile and clothing workers.