Fast fashion and clothing is driven by South Asia production factories. Management, other than collecting orders and shipping clothing, is often decoupled from the brands that design and sell the clothing. Quartz discusses a new report on labor rights (pdf) that details the loss of personal liberty for many of the workers.
Women workers are only allowed to leave the hostel once a week, which is usually for two hours on Sundays. They can only leave the hostel after registering with the security guard. The workers usually go out together and use this time to buy groceries and personal items. However, male workers at Arvind can leave the hostel at any time until 11 pm. The Garment Labour Union (GLU) told us that workers from other factories than the ones mentioned here are allowed to go out for two hours only once a month, on the first Sunday after they receive their salaries. They use this time to buy personal items.
In all hostels, male security guards are appointed for security. The guards make entry and exit notes for the workers and also make sure that they return to the hostels after work. Women workers are instructed to go to their hostels immediately after work and are not allowed to go anywhere else. One worker said that the guards are appointed “... to ensure that we do not leave for our villages after taking our salary.” At the hostel provided by Shahi Exports, a female warden is present in the morning. However, only a male security guard is present at the hostel at night. Most of the security guards are local residents and do not speak Hindi.
At Texport Industries, family members who want to visit workers at the hostel have to get a permission pass from the HR manager first. Only after showing the pass to the security guard they can meet their relatives. The workers also complained that they were not allowed to take leave. The female workers live in the hostel mainly for safety reasons, as well as to save money. As one worker at K Mohan says, “It is difficult to stay outside independently for women. It is hard to save money outside. So I stay in the hostel.” The workers are generally unhappy with the available facilities and the lack of provisions for recreation. Some of the women workers at Shahi Exports expressed their desire for a television. A male worker at Arvind states that “Nothing is good. But we are staying here because we have to live and there is no other way.” They also prefer to stay at the hostel as they are unfamiliar with the place and culture. One worker said: “I am from a different place and I speak a different language. I don't know about the situation here. So I took the company hostel.”