Systematic violations of labour rights in Pakistani garment factories

European brands must be held accountable

Pakistan – Supply chains – KiK

Garment workers in Pakistani factories face routine violations of their labour rights. The vast majority do not receive written contracts and wage violations are rife. Many workers do not even receive the legal minimum wage, are only employed informally through third parties, paid on a piece-rate basis and are not covered by social security or pension insurance.

In 2023, ECCHR in collaboration with FEMENT and our long-standing Pakistani trade union partner National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), conducted a survey of workers in the garment manufacturing hub of Karachi. The results of the study once again confirm that serious violations of labour law are also occurring in factories that supply major European brands. 

Case

The German Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz, LkSG), which came into force in 2023, requires companies to protect the human rights of workers in their value chains, provides an opportunity through which to improve working conditions in the Pakistani garment industry. Brands and retailers that fall within the scope of the LkSG have a legal obligation to conduct human rights due diligence to ensure that fundamental labour rights, including the payment of an adequate wage, are respected in the factories they source from. We are working with our partners to leverage the LkSG to address labour rights violations in the Pakistani garment industry, by pushing companies towards effectively implementing their due diligence obligations.

Context

This project directly builds on our work supporting Pakistani plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against KiK for the fatal fire at the Ali Enterprises textile factory in 2012, which killed 260 people. With our partners around the world, we are also already mobilizing the LkSG in other cases and sectors to push companies to ensure respect for human rights in their supply chains. In 2023, for example, we submitted several complaints to the authority responsible for monitoring and implementing the LkSG (BAFA): Together with the Bangladeshi trade union NGWF and FEMNET against Amazon and Ikea for labor rights violations in Bangladeshi textile factories, together with the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and Dachverband Kritischer Aktionärinnen und Aktionäre against VW, Mercedes and BMW for indications of Uyghur forced labor in their supply chains and together with the Ecuadorian trade union ASTAC, OXFAM and Misereor against Edeka and Rewe for labor rights violations on banana plantations in Ecuaodor. In addition, at the beginning of 2024, together with affected indigenous communities in Guatamala and supported by foodwatch, we filed a complaint against Edeka regarding violations of land and workers' rights in connection with palm oil plantations in Guatemala.

Documents (1)

Press (2)

Partners

  • FEMNET

  • National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUF)

Glossary (1)

Definition

Due diligence

A company's s human rights due diligence obligations reguire it to manage potential risks to human rights.

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Topics (2)

Insight

Corporate responsibility

Both in economic and legal terms, transnational corporations are the winners of the globalized economy. They are often caught up in a borad range of human rights violations, but the people running the firms are only rarely called before the courts, and even more rarely convicted for their wrongdoing.

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