However, more than half of these facilities produced for just two companies. History Place - child labor. Department of Labor in May to increase public awareness of Federal and State rules concerning young workers. In fact if we zero in on the fashion industry exclusively we find child labour widely used at every step of the supply chain.
These policies take different forms:. Corporate codes of conduct that address labor standards vary from company to company with regard to the specific labor standards included. Some or all of the following elements are found in various codes: The standards used to define child labor vary significantly from company to company.
For example, a company's policy statement may:. In some cases, companies' policies prohibiting child labor in the production of their goods do not contain any definition of child labor. An important issue regarding implementation of corporate codes is their transparency, or the extent to which foreign contractors and subcontractors, workers, the public, NGOs and governments are aware of their existence and meaning.
Transparency reinforces the message of codes and leads to more credible implementation. When transparency is lacking, interested parties cannot benefit fully from a code of conduct. Monitoring is critical to the success of a code of conduct; it also gives the code credibility. Yet, most of the codes of the respondents do not contain detailed provisions for monitoring and implementation, and many of these companies do not have a reliable monitoring system in place.
Respondents indicated that they utilize a variety of means to monitor that their codes of conduct or policies on child labor are respected by their suppliers. Active monitoring may be done through regular checks, formal audits or evaluations, or special visits by corporate staff.
The frequency and intensity of visits vary greatly from company to company. For example, some companies may focus their site visits on their larger suppliers or suppliers where there have been alleged problems, or may only monitor those facilities from which they import directly or which manufacture their private-label merchandise. Contractual monitoring shifts at least part of the burden of responsibility for ensuring compliance with codes of conduct onto the foreign manufacturer, the supplier or the buying agent.
Even when monitoring is primarily contractual, there are instances in which the U. While technically not a monitoring activity, evaluation of prospective con tractors with regard to labor standards is becoming an important aspect of code implementation. Seventeen of the companies that responded to the survey stated that they have a process in place to evaluate overseas facilities before they establish a business relationship with them. Such on-site evaluations or inspections have long been made primarily to verify whether the facilities have the physical capacity to meet quality and quantity specifications.
Increasingly, the working conditions and employment practices of prospective contractors are also being evaluated, screening out companies that are violators or have the potential for being so in the future. Enforcement of codes of conduct refers to how U. The vast majority of respondents stated that they have never found any violation of the child labor provisions of their codes; some companies attributed this to their efforts to evaluate and carefully select suppliers before entering into contracts with them, while others indicated that child labor violations of their codes are less common than other types of violations, such as safety and health.
Most respondents stated that, faced with an allegation of violation of their code of conduct, they would first investigate to confirm the use of child labor and then impose enforcement measures. Enforcement policies range from the more severe immediate termination of the business relationship to more tempered responses, including demand for corrective action e. Implementation Experiences of Codes of Conduct in the U. Department of Labor officials visited six countries where there is extensive production of garments for the U.
The objective of the visits was to learn about foreign suppliers' approaches to the implementation of the established child labor policies of U. Interviews were held with as many relevant persons or organizations as possible associated with the apparel industry, i. At the beginning of each interview, Department of Labor officials indicated that the purpose of the interview was to gather information for a public report, and any information collected could be used for that purpose.
The central element of the field visits was the opportunity to discuss matters related to the existence and implementation of codes of conduct with managers and workers of plants producing apparel for the U. Department of Labor officials visited 74 apparel-producing plants and 20 export processing zones and met with key representatives of the garment industry and more specifically of the garment export industry in all six countries.
The results of interviews regarding the 70 plants determined to be exporting to the U. Child Labor in the Apparel Industry. The consensus of government officials, industry representatives, unions and NGOs interviewed by the Department of Labor in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is that child labor is not now prevalent in their garment export industries.
In the very few cases where child labor was mentioned, the children were 14 or older. However, the use of workers 15 to 17 is common and there may be extensive violations of local laws limiting the hours for workers under There was some anecdotal information about the prior use of child labor in the garment industry in Central America.
Labor union representatives stated that about two years ago, the garment export industry began to dismiss young workers to avoid adverse publicity in importing countries.
Often plant managers no longer hire young workers years of age even if they meet domestic labor law or company code of conduct requirements. However, there are also some reports of fraudulent proof-of-age documents being used by child workers to seek jobs in the garment industry.
There continue to be allegations in Guatemala of children working for small subcontractors or in homework in the San Pedro de Sacatepequez area.
Meanwhile, it is clear that children continue to work for subcontractors and in homework in the Philippines and India. They perform sewing, trimming, embroidering and pleating tasks. It is also the case that children are not prevalent in the larger factories in the Philippines, and that recently plant managers in India have become more concerned about not using child labor. While most survey respondents indicated they have distributed their code of conduct to all suppliers, many said they were not certain if workers knew about their code.
Field visits in six countries revealed that:. While most respondents monitor foreign suppliers for quality of product and scheduling coordination, monitoring of child labor policies is far less common. Field visits revealed that:. Foreign plant managers said factories that have passed the screening process and have become contractors of U.
Examples of corrective measures cited included changes to the physical plant improvement of bathrooms, eating facilities, lighting, ventilation , monetary penalties, immediate dismissal of young workers, and termination of contracts. Foreign plant managers and other industry officials stated continued access to the U. Based upon the information collected from the voluntary survey of 48 U. Most of the large U. This is a remarkable change in a matter of just a few years.
Codes of conduct are not a panacea. Child labor remains a serious problem, with hundreds of millions of working children around the world. However, the presence of children in the garment export industry may be reduced by the implementation of codes of conduct. It is also possible that changes induced by codes of conduct could have positive spillover effects for children more generally, e. However, this relationship requires further study.
Finally, because codes of conduct seem to be tools used by large apparel importers, there may remain smaller importers without codes of conduct still willing to overlook the working conditions of the plants in countries from where they purchase their garments. This question also deserves further study. Consistent with the important efforts already undertaken by many U. All actors in the apparel industry, including manufacturers, retailers, buying agents and merchandisers, should consider the adoption of a code of conduct.
If all elements of the apparel industry have a similar commitment to eliminating child labor, this would have a reinforcing impact on the efforts that the leaders in the industry have made. Trade associations should consider whether they could increase their technical assistance to help assure that the smaller companies in the industry can achieve this objective. All parties should consider whether there would be any additional benefits to adopting more standardized codes of conduct.
There is a proliferation of codes of conduct. Some foreign companies and producer associations are even drafting their own codes. The definition of child labor differs from code to code, thereby creating some uncertainty for business partners and workers as to what standard is applicable. Since most of the violations of labor standards, including child labor, occur in small subcontracting facilities or homework, U.
The implementation of codes of conduct is a complex matter, and a relatively recent endeavor. Implementation seems best and most credible when U. There is little incentive for foreign companies to comply with a U. All parties, particularly workers, should be adequately informed about codes of conduct so that the codes can fully serve their purpose. In the supplying countries, managers of enterprises are generally familiar with the codes of their clients.
Workers, however, are seldom aware of codes of conduct of the U. NGOs and foreign governments are also not fully informed about codes of conduct. Child labor provisions under FLSA are designed to protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety. FLSA restricts the hours that youth under 16 years of age can work and lists hazardous occupations too dangerous for young workers to perform.
The information below is only a portion of the Child Labor Report Overview A recent development, corporate codes of conduct and other business guide lines prohibiting the use of child labor are becoming more common, as consumers as well as religious, labor and human rights groups are increasingly calling upon companies to take responsibility for the conditions under which the goods they sell are being manufactured.
Child Labor in the Apparel Sector The term "child labor" generally refers to any economic activity performed by a person under the age of Codes of Conduct Voluntary codes of conduct have become increasingly common among U.
The Apparel Industry The U. The industry includes the following entities: Apparel manufacturers are primarily engaged in the design, cutting, and sewing of garments from fabric. Some manufacturers are contractors or sub contractors, which generally manufacture apparel from materials owned by other firms. Larger manufacturers often contract production to many such contractors and subcontractors in the U. Some manufacturers are vertically integrated, producing the textiles from which they make garments, or even operating retail outlets.
Apparel merchandisers generally design and market clothing, but contract the actual production to manufacturers. They may be used by U. Retailers are primarily engaged in the distribution, merchandising, and sale of garments to consumers.
Apparel retailers include department stores, mass merchandisers, specialty stores, national chains, discount and off-price stores, outlets, and mail-order companies. A relatively new development is the rise of electronic forms of retailing such as interactive TV and on-line shopping services. Some retailers who sell their own private labels go beyond their traditional role as distributors and become directly involved in the design and sourcing of garments from manufacturers and contractors.
Apparel Industry In order to gather information on the extent and implementation of U. A questionnaire on import sourcing and child labor policies was sent to 48 companies, representing U. Forty-five companies responded to the questionnaire, three of whom said that they regard all information provided as confidential. The remaining 42 companies all indicated that they acquire foreign-produced apparel, the majority as direct importers i.
Follow-up telephone interviews were conducted with respondents to obtain additional information. Existence and Scope of Codes of Conduct Thirty-six of the 42 companies indicated that they have adopted a policy specifically prohibiting the use of child labor in the manufacture of goods they import from abroad.
These policies take different forms: For example, a company's policy statement may: Transparency An important issue regarding implementation of corporate codes is their transparency, or the extent to which foreign contractors and subcontractors, workers, the public, NGOs and governments are aware of their existence and meaning. Most of the respondents with child-labor policies indicated that they had distributed copies of their policies to all suppliers, but few stated that they had communicated their existence to a wider audience or engaged in educational efforts.
Many respondents stated that they did not know whether workers were aware of the existence of their codes. A small group of companies indicated that they have tried to ensure that production workers in overseas facilities know about their code or policy by specifically requiring that copies of such a statement be posted in the foreign factories from which they purchase. Only a few respondents solicited input from international organizations, labor unions, NGOs, or government agencies in developing or implementing their codes of conduct.
Monitoring Monitoring is critical to the success of a code of conduct; it also gives the code credibility. In many cases it is done in informal garment factories or is contracted out to individual families in their homes. In countries like Bangladesh it is even regulated and controlled industries routinely make use of child labour.
In the unregulated informal market the problem is even graver. Many children are forced to abandon school in order to help support their families. While this calls out to us from a humanistic point of view, after all we want these children to enjoy their childhood and be out playing with their friends not worrying about putting the next meal on the table — the real problem is even graver.
The minute these kids are denied an education the opportunities available for them in the future becomes much more limited. Often damning them to a life of subsistence work and continuing the cycle of poverty for another generation. Some children are even removed from their parents or villages and become bonded to employers. Of course, the owner often charges the child for food and accommodations at a higher rate than the worker is paid meaning that the debt can never be paid off and the child will remain perpetually enslaved.
Girls and women from rural villages are especially vulnerable to this type of enslavement. Often they are recruited from the village by someone from the city who promises them steady employment and income if they travel to the city.
Faced with few opportunities at home this seems like a dream come true. Of course, from the outside we find their belief naïve, but as with many of these issues people in desperate situations make desperate choices. The basic premise of the scheme is that young girls are recruited from rural villages to work in garment factories with the promise that their pay will be reserved for them and paid out as a dowry upon their marriage.
A practice that is illegal but still widely practiced in many areas of the world. Children are often recruited preferentially into factories because they are seen as compliant and easy to manage. In particular, children who have been removed from their parents are often afraid to question the authority of the factory owners and are unaware of where they can turn to for help or protection.
Additionally, very harsh discipline methods are often used to ensure compliance, including the verbal, emotional, physical and even sexual abuse of the children. Most of these workers rarely if ever leave the factory and are forced to sleep, eat and bathe there. Inside the factory the children are exposed to squalid conditions and a huge number of damaging chemicals including pesticides, formaldehyde, harsh acids and toxic dyes.
Many neurological symptoms, skin diseases and traumatic stress disorders are associated with these conditions. Cotton dust is also impossible to avoid as it clogs the air inside the factories, resulting in lung and stomach problems. The factories are hot, often poorly lit and without adequate facilities for sanitation and running water. Often workers are forced to go long hours without access to water, causing liver and kidney failure.
Seeing people faint due to heat, exhaustion or a variety of other ailments is commonplace.
Child labour is a particular issue for fashion because much of the supply chain requires low-skilled labour and some tasks are even better suited to children than adults. In cotton picking, employers prefer to hire children for their small fingers, which do not damage the crop. Reports of child labor in Uzbekistan, India, China and Egypt are also found “on a disturbingly large scale,” according to World Vision. Child labor in India’s cotton sector is particularlly prevalent, Anindit Roy Chowdhury, program manager of the C&A Foundation, told TriplePundit. Child Labour in the Fashion Industry. By Yvette Hymann April 27, According to Sofie Ovaa of Stop Child Labour, Fashion Report, many companies are now aware of who their suppliers are at the final stage of manufacturing their clothing. “For most companies, it is at this stage of the supply chain that they have the strongest.