Homeworkers Worldwide (HWW) wishes to respond to the statement on the ETI website concerning the complaint made against two member companies of the ETI and the possibility of forced or bonded in their supply chains in Tamil Nadu, India.
Although we could make a more detailed analysis of the complaint process, at this point we want to focus on two key inaccuracies in the statement made by the ETI.
Firstly: the original complaint made in May 2015 was about two separate supply chains. HWW’s research at two garment factories showed evidence of conditions amounting to forced labour for hostel workers at these factories which supplied a number of UK retailers. The India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) research showed evidence of forced or bonded labour in a mill which was part of the supply chain of a different retailer. While some of the other retailers had responded to our concerns, we made a complaint to the ETI about two retailers, members of the ETI, who had not responded. Neither HWW nor ICN had evidence of conditions in the spinning mill mentioned in the ETI statement.
Secondly: HWW did not agree that a satisfactory solution was found to resolve the complaint. Given that there were disagreements about the presence of forced or bonded labour in both supply chains concerned, an independent investigation was needed, in the opinion of HWW, to establish the facts of the matter. This was discussed at some length and a proposal made for how this should be carried out. In spite of these discussions, in the end there was no agreement on the need for this investigation. HWW agreed to close the complaint process, which had already taken nearly two years, because we did not see a solution coming from it. Although we welcomed the participation of the companies concerned in the Tamil Nadu working group of the ETI, we did not consider this adequate to addressing the problem.