Oct 2, 2019
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Shop Direct, Next hail progress of support programme for Indian textile workers

Oct 2, 2019

Shop Direct, Next and Varner and non-governmental NGO Save said the first phase of a project to improve employment conditions for young women in South India’s fabric mills has engaged almost 9,500 people.

The support programme, launched in July 2018, focussed on two mills and five villages in the state of Tamil Nadu, in South India. Nearly 950 workers received training and support to boost life skills, confidence and awareness of employment rights, while a village-based outreach programme aimed to educate more than 8,500 people about issues affecting female mill workers.

Village committees were established to ensure the protection of child rights and observance of labour laws, while families with young children took part in interactive sessions to learn about issues related to underage employment.

The second phase of the project is due to launch later this year. Shop Direct, Next and Varner are working with Tamil Nadu-headquartered organisation Read on the scheme’s design, which will include one additional mill as well as an education programme for children. 

The retailers are also planning to launch an app for workers to provide feedback and set up community centres.

Carly Bilsbrough, head of CSR at Shop Direct, which operates online retailers Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com, said: “The feedback we’ve received from mill workers and local communities involved with our programme has been very positive and we’re now working hard to finalise plans for the next phase. In the longer term, we’re keen to work with other retailers, mills and communities in Tamil Nadu to improve the lives of young women and their families on an even greater scale.”
Chris Grayer, head of CSR at Nex, added: “As part of our commitment to protect human rights in our supply chain, Next continues to work in collaboration with other retailers to further research and establish best practice for worker recruitment in South India’s fabric mills.
“The success already achieved from the first year’s work has provided benefits, underlining the value of collaboration and recognising the efforts of all stakeholders who have worked together on this programme.”

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