Labour abuses in supply chains uncovered. Leather and leather shoes from India

The leather and leather goods industry in India makes a substantial contribution to global demands for leather and leather goods, as well as contributing a decent share to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2019, Indian leather exports totalled about 5.5 billion USD and helped to employ nearly 4.42 million formal workers. All stages of leather production take place in India – from larger export tanneries and factories manufacturing leather goods to smaller workshops and home-based workers stitching leather uppers for shoes by hand. The sector is often
associated with poor working conditions, such as low wages, long working hours, health and safety issues, informal employment relationships and challenges when it comes to freedom of association.

New information about the working conditions in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan was gathered for the Together for Decent Leather programme. Three field studies were carried out in each of these countries. In this briefing paper, we provide an overview of the study’s main findings about the working conditions of leather workers in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. This briefing paper turns the spotlight on the leather cluster in Tamil Nadu, and how this cluster relates to the Indian leather industry and export market. An important aspect of this paper is the link that is made with international companies that are related to the Tamil Nadu leather industry – and therefore face potentiel risks in their supply chains. This report is based on the full field study report (which can be found here) published under the umbrella of Together for Decent Leather.

Download the report here.