January 24, 2017
Garment brands contribute to low wages, long working hours, child labour and school dropouts in Bangladesh
These are important findings of the report Branded Childhood that is published by Stop Child Labour and SOMO today. Almost 50% of the textiles produced in Bangladesh are exported to the European Union. International brands and retailers should therefore play a key role in ensuring that the rights of all workers and their children are respected.
Indirect child labour
Child labour at export-oriented garment factories in Bangladesh has been substantially reduced over the past few years, in part due to buying companies’ zero tolerance policies. However, this report focuses on a more hidden aspect of child labour. For the research 75 workers with children were interviewed working in 14 different factory units producing garment for the international market.
The working children featured in the report are not part of the buying companies’ supply chains but are the children of the garment workers. They are working at home or in other companies, sometimes in entirely different sectors. Workers are receiving low wages and experiencing long working days and that this – without doubt – contributes to the low school attendance and child labour of their children.
“The responsibility of companies to address child labour also extends to ‘indirect child labour’, to which are low wages and excessive working hours are important contributing factors. Therefore companies should assess the impact of their purchasing practices and the consequences for the workers and their children”, says Gerard Oonk, senior advocacy officer of Stop Child Labour. “The various disturbing stories in the report make it clear that urgent action is needed and companies should quickly work towards the payment of a living wage that enables adult workers to meet their basic needs.”
Larger group of brands should act
There is a much larger group of brands and retailers who are sourcing from the investigated factories. The responsibility to address the labour rights issues therefore does not only lie with the brands and retailers mentioned in this report.
Stop Child Labour coalition
India Committee of the Netherlands - January 24, 2017