Wal-Mart, Nike, others steal $10.5 million in wages from Indian garment workers

walmart-detroit-usas-signToday, USAS sent out a press release calling out Wal-Mart, Nike and other major retailers and apparel brands for stealing $10.5 million (USD) in legally-mandated wages from 125,000 garment workers in Bangalore, India.  Read the full report by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).

The news comes as both Wal-Mart and Nike tout their “social responsibility” codes in an attempt to win over consumers concerned about these corporations’ terrible track record on worker rights.  Once again, the corporations have proven that they cannot be trusted ensure basic human rights in their supply chain.  Only workers’ unions, like the Bangalore-based Garment Apparel and Textile Workers Union (GATWU), and independent monitoring organizations, like the WRC, can keep companies accountable.

Over a year ago, the state Karnataka raised the legal minimum wage for garment workers, but workers never got the raise in factories across Bangalore — a major center of export production in India —  that supply Wal-Mart, Nike and other companies.  If these same multinational corporations insist they routinely monitor their suppliers’ labor rights standards, how could such a blatant violation of local minimum wage laws go unnoticed?  We have to conclude that Wal-Mart, Nike and others have no serious commitment to enforcing even the most basic rights of workers in their supply chains.

For Nike, these new violations are particularly embarassing.  USAS members around the country are already calling on Nike to “Just Pay It” — pay the more than $2.5 million legally owed to Honduran workers who made their apparel.

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Photo:  Wal-Mart protest during USAS Summer Conference 2007 in Detroit, Michigan (Credit: Isaac Steiner)