Dindigul Agreement To Eliminate Gender-Based Violence And Harassment In The Garment Industries

Dindigul agreement
Another major victory for 5,000 mostly women, Dalit workers in Dindigul, India. 
On 1st April 2022, Eastman Exports Global Clothing Private Limited, the Tamil Nadu Textile, and Common Labour Union, the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, and Global Labor Justice- International Labor Rights Forum, along with H&M Group (H&M), jointly announced the groundbreaking Dindigul Agreement to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH).  
These stakeholders have signed as set of agreements which jointly commit to work together from their supply chain role to eradicate discrimination based on gender, caste, or migration status; to increase transparency; and to develop a culture of mutual respect in the garment factory setting.


Dindigul Agreement : ending Gender-Based Violence and Harassment in Garment Industries 

The agreement draws language from the International Labor Organization’s Convention 190 concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace and strongly protects freedom of association and the rights of Dalit women workers. Tirupur is known as India’s textile spinning capital and is the largest producer of cotton yarn in India, employing over 280,000 workers total.

All our employees deserve safety and respect at work. It is our hope that this unique agreement and partnership will not only positively impact Natchi’s valued workforce but will also serve as a model for other garment factories.

The agreement includes an innovative program known as “Safe Circles” with regular training for all workers, supervisors, and managers; a peer education program; and shop floor monitors to detect and report GBVH. The program will be anchored by Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU), a women-led independent and majority Dalit trade union of textile workers. The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), an alliance of trade unions and labor organizations representing garment workers across Asia and Global Labor Justice- International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF), a global human and labor rights advocacy organization focused on eliminating GBVH have joined as signatories and will support these efforts.
As a part of the agreement, Eastman Exports will amend its internal policies and procedures including to strengthen the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and establish an independent grievance mechanism overseen by third-party experts.

Justice For Jeyasre: Fight Against Sexual Harassment 

In January 2021, Jeyasre Kathiravel, a 20-year-old Dalit woman, was found dead on farmland near her family home after finishing a shift at Natchi Apparel, a factory making clothes for H&M in Kaithian Kottai, Tamil Nadu. Her supervisor reportedly confessed to her murder and is awaiting trial. Her family also allege that she was raped before she was killed, and had suffered sexual harassment and intimidation at work in the months before her death, but felt powerless to prevent the abuse.
20-year-old Jeyasre Kathiravel was found dead in farmland near her home. Photograph: Handout via Theguardian.com
The legally binding agreement that resulted is only the second of its kind in the fashion industry, and the first time a brand has ever signed up to an initiative to tackle gender-based violence in Asia’s garment industry.
Under the terms of the agreement, all workers, supervisors and executives will have to undergo gender-based violence training and the TTCU will recruit and train female workers as “shopfloor monitors” who will ensure women are protected from verbal harassment and sexual intimidation.
The agreement also overhauls Natchi’s internal complaints committees, a mechanism required under Indian law in all workplaces but which has failed for decades to protect women from male violence at the Natchi factories. Women will now be able to report sexual harassment anonymously to an independent panel that will have the power to dismiss perpetrators and seek financial compensation for victims and their families. 
For the fashion industry, the agreement marks a moment of change.

Lead image and story courtesy of Justice For Jeyasre Via Global Labor Justice.

You may also be interested in : 

40 Roundup Ethical Fashion Quotes To Inspire You To Action