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Ending child labour in garment supply chains

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Published on: 22 October 2020 | Changed on: 22 October 2020

To end child labour in garment supply chains in India and Bangladesh, a group of parties worked together. The project: ‘Remedies towards a better workplace’ ran from April 2017 until March 2020. The focus of the project was what companies can influence directly. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency funded this project through the Fund against Child Labour (FBK).

The goal of this project was to work towards preventing and ending child labour in garment supply chains. This includes the lower tiers, as there are major risks lower down in the supply chain. The project focused on what the companies can influence directly. For example, to support direct and indirect suppliers to improve working conditions. The companies follow the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Textile and Garments (AGT).

‘Remedies towards a better workplace’ results

The project had the following results:

  • It reached more than 3,500 workers and almost 2,000 children with workshops and training sessions. These focused on:
    • children's rights,
    • maternity rights,
    • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH),
    • health & nutrition for mothers,
    • teenage workers,
    • wages & benefits,
    • preventing and ending child labour.
  • More than 12,000 employees have safer working conditions and more knowledge about their labour rights and the rights of children. This due to a training programme that focused on establishing and strengthening worker-management committees with suppliers;
  • At 30 factories and spinning mills, age verification methods were introduced;
  • Worker committees improved in 13 factories; filed employee complaints increased in 2019. Both brands and factory management dealt with all 83 complaints.
  • More than 400 employees were registered under the Employee State Insurance Act. This is a social security scheme. It gives workers access to:
    • healthcare,
    • maternity benefits, and
    • sickness and employment-related disablement benefits.

Collaborative approach

A lot more can be achieved using a collaborative approach instead of focusing on compliance. The companies in this project engaged with local NGOs and built relationships with suppliers. This created changes that are measurable and sustainable for workers.

New insights and more transparency

The project developed tools and gave training sessions in factories. Companies also got support to improve communication with suppliers. This led to new insights and more transparency in the supply chains. The Remedies toward a better workplace tools are publicly available.

Read more about the lessons learnt (pdf) in this project. Other industries with an international supply chain can apply these lessons. This is especially the case for the garments, shoes and leather sector.