Women who sew blue jeans for Levi's, Wrangler and Lee face sexual harassment and gender-based violence and some have been forced to have sex with supervisors to keep their work in African factories, the rights groups say. workers.
In response to the revelations, the brands agreed to introduce external supervision and enforcement for more than 10,000 workers in five factories in Lesotho, according to a Washington-based Worker Rights Consortium report.
The workers' rights group studied the Nien Hsing Textile textile factories based in Taiwan in Lesotho – a poor and mountainous kingdom surrounded by South Africa – after hearing from various sources that women who sewed, sanded, washed and added rivets to Blue jeans and other clothes were tackling gender-based violence.
Executives and supervisors have forced many female workers to engage in sexual relations in exchange for job security or promotions, the report said on Thursday.
In dozens of interviews, women described a pattern of abuse and harassment, including inappropriate touches, sexual intercourse and crude comments.
When the workers objected, they suffered discrimination and retaliation, the report said. The factory leaders also fought the organization of the union, he said.
The workers told investigators that male colleagues were also harassing them.
"Male workers like to touch females in a way that is not appropriate," a worker said.
"Foreign national managers slap the buttocks of women and touch the breasts. Sometimes they take them home to have sex," another worker said.
Their testimony in the report is anonymous to protect the privacy of workers.
Levi Strauss & Co's vice president of sustainability, Michael Kobori, said that as soon as the company received the Consortium's report on workers' rights, he told Nien Hsing "that this would not be tolerated and required them to develop a corrective action plan ".
Levi's, The Children 's Place and Kontoor Brands, jeans maker Wrangler and Lee, said in a joint statement that they want all workers, especially women, to feel "safe, valued and strengthened. "
US companies are funding a two-year program, in collaboration with the US agency for international development, which establishes an independent investigative group in which factory workers can raise concerns.
The Nien Hsing factory owner has agreed to work with Lesotho-based trade unions and women's rights organizations to develop a code of conduct and enforcement actions.