Sunday, 1 August 2010

Fair Trade Forum India and Noida garment factories

29th July

This morning we visited the Fair Trade Forum – India, this happens to be in the same building where Tara Jewellery is based (another of People Tree’s producers). Here we spoke to Jayakumar the program director. There are 80 members in the Fair Trade Forum, its main purpose is to promote Fair Trade. They do this in universities and schools. They are currently running a campaign called Pro-Sustain which is to specifically promote and raise awareness of Fair Trade in India.

They are currently working on a Fair Trade cotton supply chain project to trace the line of Fair Trade cotton and to ensure that all the processes along the way are Fair Trade. This would be an amazing turn of events as at this stage, Fair Trade cotton only guarantees the farmers get a fair price and no-one else along the supply chain.

Not so great practice knit wear factory – We went to a small factory in Noida (just outside of Delhi) that employs about 20 tailors and makes knitwear garments. We spoke to the owner who came across as slightly desperate. His business has been getting steadily worse since the credit crunch. He doesn’t pay all of his minimum wage, his excuse being that they are willing to work for less so why offer more. He hope to become a Fair Trade factory, I don’t think he fully understands the model…
After walking around the factory I could see why he was reluctant to let me in, it is grubby and the workers do not look too happy. There are no major issues (except for not paying minimum wage!) but it does not look like a pleasant work environment.

Good practice leather factory – From this factory we went to a factory that complies with all the ETI regulations, this particular unit employs only about 20 tailors but they have a larger (even more compliant) factory outside of Delhi. They make leather goods, and are now competing mainly with China for price so they are struggling slightly also. The senior tailors here get upwards of 8,000 rupees per month, this is well above the minimum wage. Everyone here is paid above the minimum wage, the owner sees this as an important investment for happy employees. The only issue he has with ETI compliance is the working hours, he believes that workers should be able to work the overtime that they wish – he believes that not having compliant factories be able to provide the overtime needed drives the workers to seek illegal employment in non-compliant factories. This frustrates not only him but many other employers.

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