Four major fashion brands have pledged to take serious action to remedy what has been alleged as "appalling living conditions" and "restricted freedom of movement" for apparel workers in Bangalore, India.

A report by human and labour rights organisation the India Committee of the Netherlands, entitled 'Unfree and Unfair', details that an increasing number of young migrant women workers are staying in factory-owned hostels with poor living conditions. Their movement, it explains, is severely restricted, while their salaries do not add up to a decent living wage.

Four garment factories in Bangalore – K Mohan, Texport Industries, Arvind and Shahi Exports – said to be producing apparel for C&A, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, Inditex and Gap, were named in the report.

All of the brands, with the exception of Gap, responded to the findings and declared they would take serious action in order to provide migrant garment workers with better living conditions in Bangalore.

The paper gives evidence of women workers only being allowed to leave the hostel once a week, usually for two hours on Sundays, a lack of basic amenities at the hostel, irregular water supply, and verbal abuse from supervisors. 

On average the garment workers receive between EUR95 and EUR115 per month, which is just above the official minimum wage of between EUR93 to EUR103 that came into effect from 1 April 2015. 

C&A, H&M and Inditex have said they will work together to improve the living conditions of the workers. Jointly, they want to ensure freedom of association by liaising with local trade unions. And they have committed to engaging with industry experts, other brands and stakeholders to implement an industry-wide programme to ensure international standards in the area of recruitment, accommodation, grievance handling, training and development of migrant workers.

Individually, C&A has said it will further investigate conditions at Shahi Exports, while H&M has pledged to apply and reinforce compliance with multi-stakeholder developed dormitory guidelines for all hostels in its supply chain. Inditex will implement a project throughout its India supply chain based on a baseline assessment, targeting the provision of better hostel facilities, putting in place a grievance handling mechanism and training and counselling sessions for migrant workers and sensitising (management) staff.

PVH explained that it had asked the named suppliers to report back on their individual circumstances and said it is developing guidelines intended to address the issues raised in the report.