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Promoting Business and Human Rights in South Asia's Small-Scale Fisheries: Opportunities for Sub-Regional, Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation

Organized by: SOMO

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Image by Parker Hilton

In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, millions of people work to produce leather garments, footwear and accessories. Workers are denied fundamental enabling rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. They endure poverty wages, forced overtime, exclusion from social security and child labour. They struggle with health issues because they work with toxic substances and unsafe heavy machinery, often without adequate protective equipment. Workers face social exclusion, stigma based on caste, origin, ethnicity, gender or religion. With the COVID-19 crisis and measures implemented since March 2020, the situation for workers has exacerbated and added to the existing misery. It is urgent to reinvent the leather-based garment industry - from a workers’ rights perspective.


Session Description                    


In this side session to the 2022 UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights, the Together for Decent Leather consortium brings to light new research findings on the labour rights risks and challenges at play in the leather-based garment industry. Research in leather product production hubs in South Asia, in particular in Vellore and Chennai districts in Tamil Nadu, India; greater Karachi in Pakistan; and the greater Dhaka region in Bangladesh, has revealed that abuse of vulnerable workers continues to be a problematic key feature in the leather-based garment supply chains in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. During the session, the consortium will discuss the most vulnerable worker groups in the leather garment and footwear sector, the key risks of labour rights abuses they face, who is responsible for solving the problems and what should be done.


Session Objectives


The key objectives of this session are to:  

  • Highlight specific human rights and labour rights issues, including COVID-19 impacts, currently at play in the leather-based garment industry, around case studies from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan; 

  • Bring together different actors in and around the leather-based garment supply chain 

  • Collect ideas for improvement proposals for sharing with government policy makers and industry actors 


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