India’s largest garment company has paid out an estimated £3m in unpaid wages to tens of thousands of workers, after two years of refusing to pay the legal minimum wage.

Last month Shahi Exports, which supplies dozens of international brands, agreed to pay nine months of back pay to about 80,000 workers, with further payments expected in the coming months that will increase the total paid back to workers to £7m.

Shahi and other garment companies across Karnataka, which collectively produce clothing for international brands including Puma, Nike, Zara, Tesco, C&A, Gap, Marks & Spencer and H&M, have been refusing to pay an annual cost-of-living increase to the minimum wage set by the Indian courts in April 2020.

More than 400,000 workers were left without their full legal wages for more than 20 months, in what international labour rights groups claimed was the biggest wage theft to hit the fashion industry.