CHILD LABOR AND INFORMAL SUPPLY CHAINS

While most auditing efforts improve working conditions at factories, 90 percent of the child laborers GoodWeave rehabilitates with its business partners are in outsourced, informal production.

Child labor is illegal under the age of 14 in most cases in India, and it is increasingly less common to find children in factories. However, they may continue to work in more remote locations that are hard to reach even for businesses themselves. In fact, 83.6 percent of India’s non-farm labor works in this informal way. At GoodWeave India we believe that informal jobs can be meaningful when we account for every worker, ensure that their children are enrolled in school and that important labor rights criteria are met regardless of work location.

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This approach is good for workers, sub-contractors, exporters and importer companies who can work together to solve the problem. Not all work performed by children is child labor. Household chores, contributing to a family business, or having an afterschool job can be beneficial and necessary. However, any work that compromises a child’s health, personal development, or education is considered child labor. To learn more about Child Labor and related laws, check our information hub.

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IMPACT ON SOCIETY AND THE INDUSTRY

The debates related to child labor are no longer limited to humanitarianism; it has become widespread knowledge that the practice effects economy and business as well. Child labor impacts how much work is available for adult workers and in the long run has an impact on minimum wage as well. Moreover, in recent times the International Labor Organisation has highlighted that Child labor is the biggest threat for any company in terms of reputation and business risk. Eliminating child labor is thus everyone’s business. Child labor taints global manufacturing supply chains across sectors–from carpets and garments to home-textiles and tea.

INTERVENTION BY THE BUSINESSES

We’re seeing serious corporate investment in supply chain transparency and labor rights by companies worldwide. 10 years ago the labor rights movement didn’t entrust the private sector to advance real change, but businesses today are paying heed to consumer demand and are interested in providing the best possible assurance against child labor. At GoodWeave we’ve watched this progression from the front row. We’ve partnered with Target, Macy’s, Restoration Hardware, and other companies around the world who are interested in working only with those Indian suppliers who work with GoodWeave India for improved oversight over their additional production units. Our system provides a pathway for businesses to attain transparency in order to create good working conditions at the last level a win-win situation for all the stakeholders involved while simultaneously eliminating all the reputational risks related to child labor.

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