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Clean Clothes Campaign summoned to Indian court in alleged defamation case

June 26, 2007

Jeans manufacturer tries to silence its critics

UPDATE: MSN is no longer requesting action on this case.

For more information, see Clean Clothes Campaign staff cleared of charges.

Amsterdam - Following their efforts to draw attention to worker rights violations at an Indian garment factory, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) were summoned to appear in a Bangalore court on June 25, 2007. The Dutch organizations, which have been raising awareness of violations at international jeans suppliers Fibres and Fabrics International and its 100% subsidiary Jeans Knit Pvt Ltd (FFI/JKPL), are accused of cyber crime, acts of racist and xenophobic nature and criminal defamation.

This is the first time that a factory has filed suit against the CCC and the ICN for publishing information on working conditions in the garment industry on their respective websites. Interviews with workers from the factories carried out in November 2005 and March 2006 revealed serious labour rights violations, including excessive workload, forced overtime, physical and psychological abuse, non-payment of overtime, and the failure to issue identity cards and employment contracts. These claims were backed up by a fact-finding mission carried out by seven human and women’s rights organizations that completed a report in August 2006.

On June 25, 2007 the Bangalore court granted the CCC and the ICN an extension until July 27. The organizations are preparing to contest the case in a higher court on grounds of both content and procedure.

Despite the charges, the two organizations are continuing their support for the workers at FFI/JKPL.

FFI/JKPL filed the defamation complaint against the CCC and ICN after having taken legal action to silence the unions and local worker support organizations advocating on behalf of the FFI/JKPL workers.

Since July 2006 the Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU), the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), the Civil Initiative for Peace and Development (CIVIDEP), the Women Garment Workers’ Front Munnade and the CCC Task Force Tamil Nadu have been under an injunction order prohibiting them from distributing information about the working conditions at FFI/JKPL inside and outside India.

“Suing all human rights organizations that report about working conditions in the garment industry in Bangalore will not solve anything,” said Esther de Haan of the CCC International Secretariat and one of the accused. “What we demand of FFI/JKPL is to finally start a dialogue with the union GATWU and other local organizations in order to develop a normal industrial working relationship in which any labour rights issue can be discussed and solved.”

FFI/JKPL produces for international brand name companies such as G-Star, Mexx, Gap and Armani. CCC, ICN and the Maquila Solidarity Network are calling on the brands sourcing from FFI/JKPL to take a public stand in opposition to FFI's behaviour against both local and international worker's (support) organizations.

TAKE ACTION:

Please write to the brand name companies that are or have been sourcing from FFI/JKPL urging them to ensure that FFI/JKPL will finally enter into meaningful local dialogue with labour rights organisations.

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