Reports

October, 17 2006 |  Share

Evitex Factory

 

Thirty to Forty Child Workers
At the Evitex Factory

Evitex Apparels
The Evince Group
Shirir Chala, Bhabanipur
Bangladesh

Managing Director:

Mr. Anwar-Ul Alam Chowdhury Parvez

 

(According to the company's website, Mr. Alam Chowdhury was educated in the U.S., receiving an MBA.  He is also "the vice president (finance) of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Export Association (BGMEA). The Evince Group says it has "joint venture with...countries like...the U.S.A."  Among companies mentioned are VF/Wrangler.)

Phone:

880-2-801-1227; 801-3356

Email:

evince@bangla.net

Number of workers:

This is a new factory with approximately 800 workers, among whom are an estimated 30 to 40 child workers under the age of 14.

 

VF Connection:

In a single day, May 5, 2006, according to U.S. Customs documentation, V.F. Jeanswear in Greensboro, North Carolina received two shipments of "Wrangler woven shirts," with a wholesale value of $276,527 from the Evince Group's Evince Garments Limited factory.  According to reports from the workers, there are also some under-aged children working at the Evince Garments factory, similar to the situation at the Evitex plant.

Evince Group's main European clients include:

  • Tesco
  • VF Asia
  • George (Asda/Wal-Mart)
  • H&M
  • Pierre Cardin

European labels smuggled out of the Evitex factory by workers:

  •  Jules

 Jules label smuggled out of Evitex factory

The Jules company is owned by the Mulliez family of France. The U.K.'s  Sunday Times lists the family as #12 among Europe's richest 100.

  •  Tema Tekstil

 

Waikiki label smuggled out of Evitex factory

Tema Tekstil owns the Waikiki label and is a Turkish company.

 

  •  Aldi

 Impidimpi label smuggled out of Evitex factory

Aldi is owned by Theo and Karl Albrecht of Germany. The U.K.'s Sunday Times lists them as #1 among Europe's richest 100.

 

 Worker #1

Thirteen-year-old Girl Working at Evitex

"Please hide my identity"

"I had finished 5th grade and then left the school last year.  I am 13 years old.  There are 40 workers my same age.  I work as a helper and work on the Tesco shirt.  I cut threads and I cut 70 pieces an hour"*.  I cut 70 pieces of threads.  It is hard to meet the target.  When I fail to meet the target, the supervisor calls names.  They beat us if we cannot fulfill the target.

""We take lunch on the floor"  We can't get sick leave" I work from 8:00 [a.m.] and get back home at 8:00 [p.m.].  I feel tired and exhausted.  At this age, when I work so hard I feel weak."

*Note: 
When the garment is finished, she "cleans" it, cutting off any loose threads.  She is given just 51 seconds to inspect and clean each shirt, and must finish eight shirts to earn one penny.

  
— Urgent Alert —
Monday, October 23, 2006

Sixty Child Workers Fired from Evitex/Evince Group

 


Like Harvest Rich, the Evitex/Evince Group also denied using child labor, similarly claiming that "every worker has been age verified by a physician."

  • Now, 60 child workers have been fired, along with a suspected whistle-blower at the factory;
  • Again like Harvest Rich, Evitex/Evince Group is now deciding whether or not it will pay educational stipends, and to whom;
  • U.S. companies like VF/Wrangler must immediately intervene, along with European companies like Tesco and Asda (Wal-Mart) in the United Kingdom, and H&M and Pierre Cardin to insist that every child worker be provided a monthly stipend sufficient to replace their highest salaries and cover necessary educational expenses.  This is the least they could do to make these children whole again...
  ---
Hours—Forced overtime; routine 11 to 12-hour shifts; an average of just two days off a month:

The standard daily shift is 11 to 12 hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., with one hour off for lunch.  It appears that the workers receive, on average, just two days off a month.  When forced to work on Fridays, the weekly holiday, the workers are typically let out at 5:00 p.m.

Typical 11 to 12-Hour Shift

 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

 (Work, 5 hours)

 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

 (Lunch, 1 hour)

 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  

 (Work, 3 hours)

 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.

 (Overtime, 2 or 3 hours)

With this schedule, at the high end, the workers including the children could be at the factory up to 78 hours a week, while working 71 hours.  At the low end, the workers would be at the Evitex factory 66 hours, while actually working 60 hours.

For the child workers especially, these are very long hours, and they do report returning home sometimes as late as 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., weak and exhausted.

Worker #2

Another thirteen-year-old girl

"I am 13 years old and this is my first job...like me, there are many workers in the factory with the same age... I start working at 8:00 [a.m.].  There is a break for lunch from 1:00 to 2:00 [p.m.].  After lunch, I work again until 7:00.  I get out of the factory at 7:00.  My monthly salary is 1,200 taka [$17.91] and I work 10 hours a day...  The factory is very hot.  There is no toilet paper, soap or sandals in the toilet.*  The toilets go without water sometimes... The factory management is against approving leave, even [when] we fall sick, and we have to work ten hours.  We have to work on Fridays until 5:00 [p.m.]... We work 10 hours with overtime, but we are denied correct overtime pay."

*Note: 
Many of the workers work barefoot in the factory, but need sandals to enter the bathroom, since it is filthy.

  
Wages—Low, and well below subsistence levels:

Helpers, who supply the assembly lines with fabric and also clean the finished garments by clipping off any loose threads, are paid just 1,200 taka a month, or $17.91, which comes to just 8 ½ cents an hour.

Helper's Pay
(1,200 taka a month)

8 ½ cents an hour
69 cents a day (8 hours)
$4.13 a week (6 days; 48 hours)
$17.19 a month
$214.93 a year

Sewing operators earn just 2,000 to 2,200 a month, between $29.85 and $32.84, which breaks down to 14 to 16 cents an hour.

Sewing Operator's Wage
(2,000 to 2,200 taka a month)

14 to 16 cents an hour
$1.15 to $1.26 a day (8 hours)
$6.89 to $7.58 a week (6 days; 48 hours)
$29.85 to $32.84 a month
$358.21 to $394.03 a year

 

Worker #3

Another thirteen year-old girl

"I am 13 ½ years old.  I work on Tesco shirts matching the numbers.*  I get a monthly salary if 1,200 taka [$17.91].  Overtime is not paid correctly.  It is very hot in the factory"  There is no availability of water when we eat lunch in the factory.  There are 30 to 40 child workers in our factory.  I have to match 140 pieces of shirts.**  It is too hard for me.  The supervisors call names when I fail to meet the target" We cannot get sick days, can't talk in the factory, or freely move in the factory.  We need permission to go to toilet.  We can't take a day off, even if it is very urgent.  For being three days late, they cut one day's pay.  When we get back home, we feel exhausted."

Notes: 
*The cut fabric pieces are numbered.  It is the job of some helpers to match the appropriate pieces—such as the front and back of a shirt—according to their similar numbers, written in chalk. 
**One every 26 seconds.

 

  
Poor factory working conditions:
  • Filthy bathrooms lacking toilet paper, soap and towels.  Workers must ask permission to use the toilet, and supervisors monitor the time they are away from their work stations.
  • According to the workers, the factory's drinking water is unsafe.
  • The factory dining canteen lacks tables and chairs, forcing the workers to either sit on the floor or take their lunch outside, sitting in the dirt.  The factory canteen also often lacks access to running water.
  • There is no daycare center at the Evitex factory.
  • No sick days are allowed and workers are docked for any time absent.
  • Any worker arriving late three times will be docked one full day's wages.
  • The workers have no health insurance.  (A doctor comes to the factory just once a week, but that is nowhere near sufficient.  Nor does the factory provide even rudimentary medicines free of charge.)
  • The factory is often excessively hot.
  • The workers do not have their legal appointment or contract letter.
  • The workers are aware of no case in which a woman has been granted her legal right to maternity leave with full pay.   (However, as the factory is still relatively new, it is possible that Evitex will pay maternity leave in the future.)
  • The factory buses are in poor repair, often breaking down, which can add an hour or more each way to the workers' travel.  Even if they get out at 8:00 p.m., if the bus falters, many workers do not arrive home until 11:00 p.m.
  • The workers also face constant pressure to reach their excessive production goals.  One 13-year-old girl put it like this:  "It is hard to meet the target.  When I fail to meet the target, the supervisors call names.  They beat us if we could not fulfill the target."
  • No right to freedom of association: Of course, under these circumstances, the workers have no rights or voice. Anyone protesting the gross violations or attempting to organize a union will be immediately attacked and fired.
F&F labels from Evitex factory
 
 Behind Tesco's Everyday Low Prices
  • Young women paid just 4.7 cents for each Tesco shirt they sew.
  • A 13-year-old girl, who says she is shouted at and hit if she fails to reach her production goal.

There are eight assembly lines in the Evitex factory, four of which sew shirts carrying Tesco's "F&F" label.  (Tesco is the largest big box discount retailer in the United Kingdom—larger than Wal-Mart's Asda.  Tesco accounts for one out of every seven dollars spent on food and retail goods in England.)

At most, there are 35 sewing machine operators on each of the assembly lines producing Tesco shirts.  Management gives each line a mandatory production goal which they must meet, of completing 120 Tesco shirts an hour.  In effect, each worker is given just 17 ½ minutes to sew each shirt.  Given the very low wages at the Evitex factory of 16 cents an hour or less, we can calculate that the workers are paid no more than 4.7 cents for each shirt they sew. 
(120 shirts per hour / 35 operators = 3.43 shirts per worker per hour;  60 minutes per hour / 3.43 = 17 ½ minutes per shift;  17 ½ minutes / 60 minutes = 0.2915—i.e. 17 ½ minutes = 29.15% of an hour;  0.2915 x wage of 16 cents per hour = labor cost of 4.665 cents per shirt.)

  
Shipping data based on U.S. Customs documents:

FROM:
Evince Garments Limited
Plot No. 33 Section Mirdur, Dhaka-12
Dhaka
Bangladesh
8013504

TO:
VF Jeanswear
400 North Elm Street
Greensboro NC 27401
United States
3324387

CC:
UPS Freight Services Inc.
538 North Regional Road, Suite JP
Greensboro NC 27409
United States

 

 

 

 Estimated value:

 $193,908.00

 Exporting from:

 Bangladesh

 Importing to: 

 Savannah, Port 1703

 Date of arrival: 

 05/05/2006

 Description:

 woven shirts

 Quantity:   

 1102 Cartons

Shipping data based on U.S. Customs documents:

FROM:
Evince Garments Limited
Plot No. 33 Section Mirdur, Dhaka-12
Dhaka
Bangladesh
8013504

TO:
VF Jeanswear
400 North Elm Street
Greensboro NC 27401
United States
3324387

CC:
UPS Freight Services Inc.
538 North Regional Road, Suite JP
Greensboro NC 27409
Untied States

 

 

 

 Estimated value: 

 $82,619.00

 Exporting from: 

 Bangladesh

 Importing to:

 Savannah, Port 1703

 Date of arrival:

 05/05/2006

 Description: 

 woven long sleeves shirt

 Quantity: 

 438 Cartons

 

 

Worker #4

A Male Senior Sewing Operator

"The company does not provide any appointment letter, nor do they have any insurance for the workers" We start working from 8:00 in the morning and work until 7:00, sometimes 8:00 [p.m.].  Fridays are supposed to be our day off, but we cannot get all Fridays off.  Sometimes the factory is open on Fridays"  In the factory, there is some space for eating food during lunch, but there is no table or chair to eat lunch.  It is a problem for the workers" As there is no arrangement inside the factory to take lunch, the workers have to go out of the factory to take lunch beneath a tree.  There is no arrangement for supplying pure and safe water for workers.  No medical doctor is readily available when workers, especially women workers, need it badly.  Sometimes a doctor comes, but it is of no use for the workers"

"There are about 800 workers in the factory with eight lines.  Among them [are] approximately 40 laborers belonging to under 14 [age group].  Now shirts are being produced in four lines.  The shirts, long sleeve black ones, are for Tesco buyers.

"The production goal for the shirts is 120 per hour.  We work 10 hours, from 8:00 [a.m.] to 7:00 [p.m.].  It is very hard to meet the production goal of making 120 pieces.  If anyone fails to meet the target, management harshly treats the supervisor and workers, calling names" The workers are not getting their due benefits.  We can't understand whether we will receive the Eid Festival allowance"  Women are not getting maternity leave, sick and other leaves" Most workers toil beyond the time set by management.  We were told to work eight, ten hours, but sometimes we work 11, 12 hours a day.  In Tesco production line, there are 30, 35 machines in a line"  Here the child and adult workers have the same working hours.  There is no exemption for the immature child workers.  According to the law, child workers should have less working hours.  Some companies respect this law, but all workers have to work from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m."

"The factory fails to comply with some human-worker rights issues.  For example, bathrooms lack toilet paper, soap, towels, but those items should be made available in the factory.  We dislike the bathroom conditions.  Several times we talked to the management to ensure safe drinking water, but most cases there is no drinking water during lunchtime.  In a week, 5-6 days the factory goes without drinking water.  The water might be contaminated, but the management is not taking measures to purify it" There is no child care center here.  Many women have kids and it becomes hard for them to keep their kids at home unattended"  The other problem that the workers are facing is transportation facilities.  Many workers live away from the factory compound, but the staff buses are most cases out of order.  Often we get back home at 11:00 p.m. because the bus engine does not function, it stops and we get stuck.  It is a 30 minute drive from the factory to the drop off point, but it takes 1 ½ hours to get to the factory.  Due to the delay, we have to compensate for the lost hours although we are not responsible for that"  If somebody remains absent in the factory due to sickness without prior approval, his or her salary for the day is docked."

 

 [Report] Child Labor Is Back