Factories Making Levi’s, Wrangler and Lee Jeans Were Abusive Workplaces, Labor Group Charges

Women working in Lesotho accuse supervisors and fellow workers of harassment and violence

A new report from the Worker Rights Consortium cites worker abuses at a number of factories making jeans in Lesotho.
Ultrasleeper2/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / August 17, 2019 11:45 am

On Thursday, the Worker Rights Consortium released a report documenting the harrowing working conditions that 10,000 women encountered while working making jeans in a group of factories in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. The factories, owned by Nien Hsing Textile Co., Ltd., manufacture jeans for companies like  Levi’s, Wrangler and Lee. 

AP News summarizes the abuses documented in the report, and their article makes for a harrowing read, documenting a shocking array of awful behavior by men on all levels of the factories’ corporate hierarchy. 

Managers and supervisors forced many female workers into sexual relationships in exchange for job security or promotions, the report says. In dozens of interviews, the women described a pattern of abuse and harassment, including inappropriate touching, sexual demands and crude comments.

The abusers included both managers who had arrived from overseas and locally-based male workers. 

In response to the report’s findings, the companies whose jeans are manufactured in these factories have agreed to implement a series of reforms. They are working with the U.S. Agency for International Development to set up an investigative group to give employees a place to report abuses of power. Nien Hsing will also work with local organizations to prevent future abuses from taking place.

The Worker Rights Consortium is hopeful that the response of the clothing manufacturers and factory owners will serve as a template for future reforms in the industry.  

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