Dec 12, 2018
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H&M garment factory workers in Sri Lanka, India protest lack of living wage

Dec 12, 2018

A recent protest by garment workers in Sri Lanka against H&M has highlighted a growing movement of workers in South Asia demanding a living wage and a safe work environment.

The Dabindu Collective in Sri Lanka recently organised a protest demanding living wages in H&M supplier factories - Dabindu Collective Sri Lanka- Facebook

A recent protest against by garment workers against working conditions in factories producing H&M garments took place on November 27 and was organised by the Dabindu Collective. The protesters asserted that the Hidramani Factory in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, is failing to provide workers with living wages. The factory produces H&M garments and the protest was one of many against the fast-fashion giant.

The protest was a peaceful one, but the Dabindu Collective told Feminism in India that workers who had taken part in the protests were later “interrogated and threatened” by factory management. Global Labour Justice stated in a report this summer that many factories producing H&M garments saw worker abuse and unacceptable conditions.

H&M lists 235 factories in India amongst its suppliers and the Guardian reported in June that both India and Sri Lanka factories that supply H&M clothing had witness accounts of physical abuse as punishment for not meeting targets. At the time, H&M replied that it would look into the matter.

Thérèse Sundberg from H&M's press and communications department previously told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “We are dedicated to contribute to positive long-term development for the people working in the textile industry in our sourcing markets."

Sundberg also stated that these were “industry wide problems”.

As H&M increases the importance of “sustainability” in its marketing campaigns, workers in India and Sri Lanka hope that this will mean a living wage.

Founded in 1984, the Dabindu Collective works, in its own words, “To organize and empower women workers to create an environment, which will help them, win and safeguard their rights, acquire the respect of society and facilitate their participation in development processes.”

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