A few days ago there were allegations of retail giant GAP violating child labour laws in many of its outsourced suppliers factories all over the world. 31 of these factories are located in India.
These events gave GAP the image as if it was being run as a sweat shop operation.
A 10-year-old boy was filmed making clothes for Gap shops in the US and Europe as part of an investigation by the UK’s Observer newspaper. The boy told the Observer he had been sold to a factory owner by his family. Gap, which has made commitments not to use child labour, said that only one item – a girl’s smock blouse – was involved. The boy said he had been working for four months without pay and would not be allowed to leave the job until the fee his family had received was repaid.
Another boy of 12 said children were beaten if bosses thought they were not working hard enough
What stands out however is that action that GAP is taking to clear its image. The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) code lays down strict norms for factory compliances and child labour prevention. GAP has today announced the following measures,
1 ) GAP said it cancelled supply deals with 136 plants last year because of various violations. Contracts were terminated with 42 plants in China, another 42 in south-east Asia, 31 on the Indian subcontinent and nine in Europe.
2) Free education to the children involved. After they come of age, GAP shall have a separate policy to recruit them based on their skill.
3) A separate fund to stop such projects all over the world.
This is but a classic example of corporate social responsibility. The Indian gov passed a child labour law last year according to which it extended child labour violations to domestic workplaces. This law draw huge flak as no measure had been taken to ensure the welfare of the children, i.e. education, housing etc…
What the Indian gov couldnt do, GAP is doing in India. With more than 60% of Indians children not getting good education and millions of them involved in Child labour, immediate action is necessary but not being taken. But the good part is that now atleast 3000 odd of them would benefit from this policy. Wish others would do so too.