Gap Admits Possible Child Labor Problem
Journalist Videotapes Conditions at Subcontractor Plant; Gap Official Tells ABC News, 'This Is Completely Unacceptable' By HILARY BROWN, LONDON, Oct. 28, 2007 The multi-billion dollar global fashion company Gap has admitted that it may have unknowingly used child labor in the production of a line of children's clothing in India. This followed allegations by an investigative reporter based in Delhi, whose story was splashed across two pages of the British paper The Observer on Sunday. ABC News obtained some of the video material he used to substantiate his story. It shows children who appeared to be between the ages of 10 and 13, stitching embroidered shirts in a crowded, dimly lit work-room. The video clearly shows a Gap label on the back of each garment. The reporter, Dan McDougall, said the children were working without pay as virtual slaves in filthy conditions, with a single, backed-up latrine and bowls of rice covered with flies. They slept on the roof, he said. Gap Inc. was quick to order a full investigation into the allegations and to re-iterate its policy never to use child labor in the production of its clothes. "This is completely unacceptable and we do not ever, ever condone any child laborer making our garments," said the president of Gap North America, Martha Hansen, on ABC News' "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" on Sunday morning. "We act swiftly," Hansen went on. "And quite honestly, I'm very grateful that this was brought to our attention."McDougall said the children seen working on the Gap clothing all came from the poor Indian state of Bihar, a favourite hunting ground for traffickers looking for cheap underage labor. Impoverished parents are tricked into selling their children for a few dollars with the empty promise that they will be well cared for and will send back their wages. "They had been trafficked by train," he said. "Its nickname is 'the child labor express.' At any time, you can see 80 children on this huge train. Most are trafficked to work in the garment industry, which is huge in New Delhi." Like many international companies, Gap Inc farms out huge production orders to subcontractors in the developing world, where child labor is virtually endemic. The company takes pride in its record of ethical out-sourcing and has almost 100 inspectors monitoring 2,700 factories worldwide, it says. But in India one of its suppliers evidently broke the rules.
Child sweatshop shame threatens Gap's ethical image
Dan McDougall ,The Observer, Sunday 28 October 2007 An Observer investigation into children making clothes has shocked the retail giant and may cause it to withdraw apparel ordered for Christmas Amitosh concentrates as he pulls the loops of thread through tiny plastic beads and sequins on the toddler's blouse he is making. Dripping with sweat, his hair is thinly coated in dust. In Hindi his name means 'happiness'. The hand-embroidered garment on which his tiny needle is working bears the distinctive logo of international fashion chain Gap. Amitosh is 10. The hardships that blight his young life, exposed by an undercover Observer investigation in the back streets of New Delhi, reveal a tragic consequence of the West's demand for cheap clothing. It exposes how, despite Gap's rigorous social audit systems launched in 2004 to weed out child labour in its production processes, the system is being abused by unscrupulous subcontractors. The result is that children, in this case working in conditions close to slavery, appear to still be making some of its clothes. Gap's own policy is that if it discovers children being used by contractors to make its clothes that contractor must remove the child from the workplace, provide it with access to schooling and a wage, and guarantee the opportunity of work on reaching a legal working age. It is a policy to stop the abuse of children. And in Amitosh's case it appears not to have succeeded....