22 November 2013
The genesis: Supply chains of apparel brands span through the informal sector of several lesser developed and growing economies across the world. There are many tiers beneath the first level garment manufacturers that secure orders from buying houses representing apparel retailers. These tiers comprise of subcontractors and more often than not stretch out to the last end in the community and home based garment working set up. The first tier manufacturers in order to accommodate more business subcontract the order at hand to subcontractors down the supply chain which they in turn send out to home workers especially for jobs like embroidery, sequin work and embellishment. These lower tiers of supply chains are usually unregistered and are beyond the surveillance of law enforcement machinery. This segment consisting of ‘garment sweatshops’ is infamously marred with human and labour rights violations including rampant child labour often in its worst forms.
Earlier in 2007 in the wake of widespread chid labour abuses in garment sweatshops producing for some known global apparel brands, Global March Against Child Labour started focussed intervention in the garment manufacturing sector in India given the fact that several apparel brands source their product from India for the want of cheap manufacturing cost. This intervention was named “Not Made by Children” rhetoric of the philosophy for which Global March stands committed. In order to work towards sustainable elimination of child labour from garment supply chains, Global March in early 2010 successfully brought together various stakeholders like apparel brands, garment manufacturers, their associations, trade unions and child rights organisations on a common platform with the objective to provide strategic and technical guidance fostering coordination among various stake holders to share knowledge and build partnerships for elimination of child labour from the Indian garment manufacturing sector with an eventual aim of institutionalising the group for long term sustainability. As part of the efforts to reach the lower tiers of the garment supply chain, Global March as the facilitator sensitised over 150 subcontractors in the garment manufacturing sector in Delhi and Tirupur on the subject of child labour and trafficking of children for forced labour.
In March 2011, Global March’s interventions under “Not Made by Children” were boosted through a grant by UKAid from the Department for International Development’s (DFID) Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector (RAGS) Challenge Fund. The interventions were rolled out with the help of partner organisations Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and Developmental Initiatives for Social Causes that hosts the Garment Workers’ Union (under the aegis of ITUC).
The objectives under the grant were:
- Strengthening the multi stakeholder dialogue to counter child labour in garment manufacturing sector;
- Capacity enhancement of labour inspectorate to monitor child labour violations in supply chains;
- Sensitisation of garment workers on decent working conditions and fundamental rights at work;
- Capacity enhancement of garment subcontractors on the issue of child labour and collective bargaining for better transactional terms and conditions from the buyers;
- Remediation and rehabilitation of child labourers rescued from garment manufacturing sector;
- Community sensitisation in source areas of trafficking of children for forced labour and creation of a model child labour free hub.
The three pilot areas identified to roll out the programme were Delhi NCR, Bangalore and Tirupur. The endeavour of this grant that ran from March 2011 to September 2013 was to make interventions at all levels of the garment value chain for sustainably eliminating child labour from the garment manufacturing sector, promoting decent working conditions for adult and evoking concerted efforts of the law enforcement actors for protection and prevention of children from entering the labour pool servicing the Indian garment sector which is the second largest employer in the country after agriculture.
The interventions under the grant led to:
- Identification of 7260 child labourers from the garment manufacturing sector
- Rescue/ withdrawal of 2578 child labourers
- Enrolment of 1855 children in mainstream schools
- Sensitisation of 55 labour inspectors on child labour and trafficking of children for forced labour
- Mobilisation of final assistance in excess of GBP 234,016 as penalties stipulated under various laws and in compliance with the directions of the Indian courts of law
- Reaching out to over 10,537 workers for sensitising them on the benefits of collective bargaining and freedom of association
- Formation of first ever association of garment subcontractors in Bangalore to enhance the negotiation capabilities of the subcontractors so that they in turn could pass on the decent work dividend to the garment workers employed in their units
- Formation of a Model Child Labour Free Hub in an identified locality in Delhi by enrolling all out of school children in schools and getting 25 women trained by National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) on garment production skills. The women were trained to become self dependent without having the need to rely on their children’s income for survival
- Reaching out to over 700,000 people at the community level through sensitisation drives on the issue of child labour and child trafficking
Toolkit for paving the road ahead: To ensure sustainability and replicability of the interventions beyond the funding period, Global March prepared a toolkit documenting the good practices evolved which would help various stakeholders such as companies, employers, NGOs, trade unions, child rights organisations and citizens for that matter to proactively intervene against child labour.
The toolkit has three sections –
Understanding Realities related to child labour, trafficking, rights of the child, Indian and international framework upholding children’s rights.
Responses by Global March and partner organisations to strengthen efforts against child labour and trafficking by improving inspection and monitoring in garment supply chains, providing remediation and rehabilitation to victims and promoting decent work for garment workers.
Responsibilities of various stakeholders to counter child labour and trafficking have also been highlighted in the toolkit. The reader would also get a fair understanding of existing legislations in India against child labour and other associated legal provisions and guidelines. Global March would continue with its multipronged strategy for child labour elimination in the garment manufacturing sector and would also consider cross-sector replication in the times to come.
Global March sincerely encourages stakeholders from other countries to replicate lessons learnt and good practices evolved in India under the intervention “Not Made by Children” by appropriately calibrating the contents of the attached toolkit in accordance with the child labour situation prevalent. Global March strongly hopes that this toolkit would help catalysing the interventions of all stakeholders for steering the 168 million child labourers “From Exploitation to Education” into a promising world full of possibilities.
Click here to download the toolkit
Click here to download the training manual for subcontractors (Hindi)
For more information about “Not Made by Children” please click here
For viewing the video on “Not Made by Children” please click here