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December 2, 2013

Shoe companies start tackling child labour and labour rights abuses

New report Working on the Right Shoes

More than half of the shoe companies have taken significant steps to fight child labour, but there are laggards. This is the conclusion of the Stop Child Labour (SCL) report Working on the Right Shoes which examined 28 Dutch and international footwear companies. The enclosed scorecard explains why Gabor, Lotto Sports, Marks & Spencer, Schoenenreus and Wolky score poorly.

SCL has again, like in 2012, approached companies asking them about their policy and practices to combat child labour and labour rights abuses in their full supply chain. They also assessed transparency towards consumers and SCL’s researchers. Based on 15 criteria, the final judgement was good, moderate or poor. The report is a follow-up of a report on the same topic published in December 2012.

Better monitoring, cooperation and more transparency
17 companies out of a total of 28 received a total score ‘good’, seven more than a year ago. adidas, Deichmann, ECCO and PUMA have continued their efforts on labour rights issues. Among others, Bata, bugatti shoes, Camper, Clarks and Geox have taken important steps and improved their performance from a 'moderate' to a 'good' score. Most progress was made by Premium INC (Cruyff Sports). The company received a ‘bad’ score a year ago, but because of the concrete ambitions and their affiliation to the FairWear Foundation, Premium INC received a ‘good’ now.
Well-scoring companies took measures to investigate the risks in their supply chain and/or to improve their code of conduct and monitoring systems, especially for subcontractors. A number of companies has now started working with third party auditing or has joined a (multi-stakeholder) initiative to work together with other companies and civil society organisations on improving working conditions in the footwear sector. Some of the companies have become more transparent by providing more information on their social responsibility and measures to prevent child labour.

These steps seem to be – at least to a large extent – the result of the Stop Child Labour campaign ‘We want child friendly shoes!’. Despite the fact that many of the mentioned companies still have a long way to go, SCL is positive about the progress and concrete promises made by these companies regarding further improvement in the coming year.

Five companies received the total score ‘bad’: Gabor, Lotto Sports, Marks & Spencer, Schoenenreus (‘ShoeGiant’) and Wolky. No or too limited information was provided by Gabor, Lotto Sports and Wolky to assess their practices or improvements.
Dutch retailer Schoenenreus made little progress, however they have promised to improve their CSR policy and the information about it on their website. Marks & Spencer was mentioned a year ago in relation to the possible use of child labour by sub-contractors of suppliers in India. Even though the company has investigated this, there was no reaction to the request to give an update about any improvements.

The report shows and explains what kind of action has been undertaken by the 28 companies since the start of the campaign We want child friendly shoes! in June 2012. 22 of the 28 companies have provided information which is incorporated in the report. The results and final assessment are summarized on a scorecard. The scorecard stimulates companies to work – more speedily – on improvements, to formulate new ambitions and to live up to promises made.

Complete report Working on the Right Shoes: www.indianet.nl/WorkingOnTheRightShoes.html .

Summary of the report: www.indianet.nl/pdf/WorkingOnTheRightShoes-summaryEN.pdf .

Scorecard Working on the Right Shoes: www.indianet.nl/pdf/WorkingOnTheRightShoes-scorekaart.pdf .

Report Child labour in the leather footwear industry (Dec 2012): www.indianet.nl/pdf/ChildLabourInTheLeatherFootwearIndustry.pdf .

India Committee of the Netherlands -December 2, 2013