Garment workers making clothes for international brands in Karnataka, a major clothing production hub in India, say their children are going hungry as factories refuse to pay the legal minimum wage in what is claimed to be the biggest wage theft to ever hit the fashion industry.
More than 400,000 garment workers in Karnataka have not been paid the state’s legal minimum wage since April 2020, according to an international labour rights organisation that monitors working conditions in factories.
The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) estimates the total amount of unpaid wages so far to be more than £41m.
One worker said she only earned about half of what she needed to cover basic living costs, such as food and rent.
“If we had got the wage increase last year, we could have at least eaten vegetables a few times a month. Throughout this year I have only fed my family rice and chutney sauce,” she said.