Zeeman and Tesco linked to problematic conditions in Indian spinning mills


Several large companies, including Carrefour, Ikea, Tesco and Zeeman, have been mentioned in a report denouncing poor working conditions in Indian spinning mills.


False promises

The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporation(SOMO) and human rights organisation Arisa have concluded that the living and working conditions in the textile industry in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu are appalling. Workers are allegedly recruited with false promises and are housed in hostels, largely cut off from the outside world. "In the worst cases, this is comparable to forced labour", says SOMO researcher Pauline Overeem.


The researchers found direct and indirect links between the spinning mills and ten international companies: Carrefour, Gap, Ikea, Marc O'Polo, Next, Sainsbury's, Tesco, The Cookie Company Group, WE Fashion, and Zeeman. "Purchasing companies must take measures to prevent forced labour and factor in the risk of forced labour in their purchase practice," says the report.


Tesco pleads guilty

A number of the companies mentioned have meanwhile taken action. According to FashionUnited, Zeeman has ended its collaboration in Tamil Nadu, while WE Fashion is currently investigating its trading relationship with the spinning mills. Tesco too has admitted the discovery of malpractice in one of the factories it has links with in the region, reports The Guardian.


At Tesco, there are "critical issues" with wages and benefits and verbal harassment of workers. "While not a direct customer of this mill, we recognise our responsibility to everyone in our supply chain and are working alongside other brands and with Somo to investigate and ensure improvements are made," said a spokesperson for the British supermarket chain.