Garment producers for fashion brand Ralph Lauren allege they’re exploited at Indian factories

Despite making clothing for some of the world's top brands, women at factories in India allege they’re being exploited.

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Some female workers earn less than $5 a day, work excessive hours and aren’t allowed toilet breaks. Source: BBC

A BBC investigation heard from multiple women from factories around India who say they earn less than NZ$5 a day, work excessive hours and aren’t allowed toilet breaks. 

One South Indian garment factory worker said they had to work punishing hours to finish orders, often through the night, and only got a few hours of sleep each night. 

The factory supplies clothes for luxury fashion label Ralph Lauren. 

“Our bosses don’t care. They’re only bothered about production,” the worker said.

Another worker at the factory said: "I can’t even feed my children at night. They shouldn’t treat us as slaves."

The factory concerned denied all of the allegations. 

A Ralph Lauren spokesperson said it was deeply concerned about the allegations, and would investigate them. 

 “We require all of our suppliers to meet strict operating standards to ensure a safe, healthy and ethical workplace, and we conduct regular third-party audits at all factories.”

At another Indian supplier, which produced home furnishing products for big British brands, a woman said they weren’t given time to drink water while working. 

“We’re not even given time to use the bathroom. We barely get time to eat lunch,” she said.

Another woman said workers were forced to work late, or risk losing their job. 

Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Tesco all said they were shocked and troubled by the reports, and said they would take action. 

Sainsbury's said it would be "insisting on a number of actions the supplier must take in order for us to continue to work with them".

Marks & Spencer said it had a “robust” plan in place to remedy the concerns, and would be "undertaking regular unannounced audits to ensure its implementation".

Tesco said it would prohibit excessive overtime, strengthen grievance procedures and make sure workers were fully compensated for the hours they worked.