Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Child Labour and Gap

Child sweatshop shame threatens Gap's ethical image | World | The Observer

I have a piece coming out soon in the Guardian which covers these matters. Gap generally has cleaned up its act and developed a very good track record on worker's rights and the supply chain (at least better than many other high street shops.) Was it trying to conceal the use of child labour, or was it the case that its usual supplier subcontracted the work? Interviews on the BBC last night with Gap exceutives indicate that they have called a summit of all their suppliers in the sub-continent.

The Observer report says:

Gap has huge contracts in India, which boasts one of the world's fastest-growing economies. But over the past decade, India has also become the world capital for child labour. According to the UN, child labour contributes an estimated 20 per cent of India's gross national product with 55 million children aged from five to 14 employed across the business and domestic sectors.

'Gap may be one of the best-known fashion brands with a public commitment to social responsibility, but the employment [by subcontractors ultimately supplying major international retail chains] of bonded child slaves as young as 10 in India's illegal sweatshops tells a different story,' says Bhuwan Ribhu, a Delhi lawyer and activist for the Global March Against Child Labour.


Laura said...

Hi Linda. I don't usually read blogs as I don't have the time and there's so much out but in your case, I'll make an exception.

I think Gap instead of burning these clothes - as I heard they said they would on Radio 4 yesterday [Sunday] should have bought a school for these kids and staffed it. Obviously, they couldn't pay the kids. But they could have paid *something* to make amends.

It really isn't good enough to just throw your hands up and say, 'Oh dear, our supplier subcontracted, naughty naughty.' It's like Claude Rains in Casablanca saying he was shocked - SHOCKED! - to discover gambling going on.

What did they think was gonna happen?

If you want to be sure of not employing child or cheap labour, hire the workers yourself, bring it back in house and stop exporting low-waged jobs abroad. With their massive profits, they could easily afford it.

I shalln't be shopping there, nor buy clothes from kids' Gap for any of my seven nieces and nephews.

Linda Grant said...

I can't say much about this at the moment, as I have a piece waiting to appear in the Guardian, but the question of vertical integration (making the clothes yourself) is one I raised with a major high street chain. I'll return to this question when that piece appears.

Thomas said...

Congrats and good luck with the new blog. Being a man of proud sartorial inelegance with the fashion sense of a poodle (other dogs think poodles are just some weird cult), it may not be news I can use.
But with a serial shopper in the house, I have no doubt your fashion insights will indeed, er, impact me in some adverse, er, fashion. (That's enough "ers!" Ed.)
I will however keep an eye out for the literary snippets. Love, Thomas

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Gap listens to you, ladies and germs:

"Clothing retailer Gap Inc. has fired an Indian company accused of using child labor to make clothes, the company's president said."

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