Call on the European Commission to human rights and environmental due diligence. Signed by IDSN in October 2019
Several academicians, activists and politicians have warned against the caste repercussions of moves by certain states to dilute the laws in a bid to attract investors and manufacturers with the economy in dire straits amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
The EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, has announced that the EU Commission will introduce a legislative initiative next year on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for EU based companies. If this legislation is introduced, EU companies can be held responsible for human rights violations in their supply chains. This is very good news for Dalits, Adivasis and other vulnerable workers. These workers often bear the brunt of serious human rights violations in supply chains, including forced and bonded labour, child labour, exploitative and dangerous working conditions and hostile and abusive work environments – as documented in the Ethical Trading Initiative’s guidance Caste in Global Supply Chains. These workers are often found far down in the supply chains as agricultural workers, construction or stone workers or working in spinning mills or leather tanneries supplying the global garment industry.
DSN Statement – We strongly urge governments and companies with supply chains in South Asia, to take measures to urgently protect migrant and informal workers, including Dalits, against a loss of income, social benefits, shelter and a means to feed themselves and their families, as Covid-19 measures and repercussions threaten their lives and livelihoods.
DSN leaves its mark on the UN Business and human rights forum with a very popular stand, highlighting the links between caste and human rights violations in global supply chains. At the stand Dalit human rights defender Ankita Paudel from IDSN member organization, Feminist Dalit Organisation – Nepal (FEDO), and IDSN staff, spoke with participants to improve their understanding and urge them to take action. Ms. Paudel also took part in key events at the forum and made connections with other relevant stakeholders. The IDSN Director, Meena Varma, also gave a snapshot presentation on what Governments can do to start addressing these issues with businesses and IDSN Ambassador, Gerard Oonk, made important new connections and raised awareness of key stakeholders.
Henri Tiphagne, member of the IDSN board, represented IDSN in the Global Consultation on National Human Rights Institutions and access to remedy (Project on the Role of NHRIs in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses), on the 10 and 11 October. This consultation is part of an ongoing project of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) about accountability for human rights. violations and abuses committed by corporations.
A new report by Homeworkers Worldwide finds Dalit women working in global leather supply chains being subjected to discrimination, insecure work, low wages and labour rights abuses, including sexual harassment.
Indian media is dominated by ‘upper’ castes and media organisations have failed to diversify their newsroom and news coverage, reveals a new report released by Oxfam India and Newslaundry.
Press Release – Ethical Trading Initiative – UK - Remaining silent about caste discrimination in global supply chains is fueling modern slavery, child labour and the exploitation of workers in South Asia, according to new ETI Base Code guidance for companies published today.
Inequality in employment along caste and gender lines is a massive obstacle to alleviating poverty and inequality in India, finds the Oxfam India report ‘Mind The Gap – State of Employment in India’. The report documents striking disparities in wages and opportunities. The report also highlights the strong links between caste and gender discrimination and forced, bonded and child labour as well as hazardous work.
“Looking at the labour hierarchy means looking at the caste hierarchy. You are just as unlikely to find any upper class Hindus performing manual labour as you are to find high-risk jobs not being performed by lower castes, Dalits (untouchables) or Adivasis (tribal populations),” says Gautam Mody, secretary general of the New Trade Union Initiative. Every day three workers die in the factories of India. A sewer and gutter cleaner dies every week. None of them are of high caste.
This Policy Brief reports on oppression and discrimination against Dalits (the ex-untouchable castes) and Adivasis (tribal groups) perpetuating labour exploitation and land alienation, entrenching poverty and inequality in India. Dalits (officially called Scheduled Castes by the Indian Government) and Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes), account for 200 million and 100 million people respectively, together making up one-quarter of the Indian population, and one in twenty-five of the global population. This brief is based on research carried out across India by the Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty, Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics.
While companies are increasingly aware of the need for a 'feminist' narrative within the organisation, the corporate sector as a whole ignores the reality of caste and the effect this has on the workplace.
Conducted by leading labour experts at the University of California. Key findings: 99.3% of the workers are either Muslims or belong to a heavily subordinated community, called a “Scheduled Caste.” 99.2% of workers toil in conditions of forced labour under Indian law, which means they do not receive the state stipulated minimum wage. In fact, most workers received between 50% and 90% less than the state-stipulated minimum wages. Only a handful of males working near the city of Jaipur received proper wages for their work. 95.5% of workers are female.
An extensive study on home-based garment workers in India found 99 per cent of workers toiled in conditions of forced labor under Indian law, with over 99 per cent of the workers found to be either Dalits or Muslims. The prevalence of child labour was over 15 per cent and many cases of bonded labour were also documented. 85 per cent of the workers supplied global brands.The report “Tainted Garments: The Exploitation of Women and Girls in India’s Home-based Garment Sector” was conducted by leading labour experts at the University of California.
The European Parliamentary Hearing on contemporary forms of slavery featured a presentation on caste and slavery in the supply chains of global companies by Ramesh Nathan, General Secretary of the National Dalit Movement For Justice-NCDHR, India. Ramesh pointed out the strong correlation between caste and slavery in India and urged the EU to step up action to address this in the supply chains of European companies. Read the IDSN article on the hearing here >>
Social accountability initiatives fail to bring improvements for workers in the South Indian textile industry. New report from ICN finds that complaint mechanisms have not remedied labour rights violations affecting girls and young women.
Dalit children are facing extremely dangerous working conditions and violations of their basic human rights, working in child labour in mines supplying Mica to the cosmetics industries.