Zero Tolerance for Child Labor in India, Bangladesh Resists
This week, India announced its intention to adopt a zero tolerance policy for child and forced labor in its apparel supply chain. Days later, neighboring Bangladesh, which had previously indicated willingness to investigate its apparel supply chain, barred a U.S. inquiry into its textile sector.
Under the auspices of the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), India has created a compliance program with the Ministry of Textile to audit its $11 billion dollar apparel manufacturing industry. "There is a huge complaince fatigue in the Indian apparel export industry," Chandrima Chatterjee of the AEPC told Economic Times. "Although catering to the global brands, apparel suppliers are yet to accept that compliance is an essential management practice."
"We would now reach out to labour contractors to remove child labour and get the supply chain of the suppliers audited so that the industry is not held ransom by our global buyers due to prevalence of child labour or bonded labour in the supply chain," Chatterjee added.
AEPC believes that the measures will increase the cost to produce textiles by 5 percent, but that the increased expense is significantly less than the potential lost revenue due to being blacklisted by importers. These increased costs could be passed on to importers, resellers or retailers.
Indian laborers provide textiles for international companies such as H&M, Adidas and Nike. The United States provides 30 percent of the industry's business, and with increased scrutiny from laws such as The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, the country stands to lose significant business if it does not comply.
As India has signified willingness to work with the international community, Bangladesh has taken the opposite approach. According to just-style.com (registration required), the Bangladesh government is currently withholding permission for a U.S. survey on the country's garment workers.