Garment brands take steps to eliminate child labour in supply chains

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7 August 2017

Positive steps to eradicate child labour in Turkish garment sector

Author: Nicole Pope, Fair Wear Foundation

"How the Syrian conflict is impacting the Turkish garment sector"

... The Syrian conflict may seem distant to fashion companies and consumers, but the war is having a direct impact on the garment sector through its supply chain. A growing number of Syrian children...are used as cheap manpower in Turkish textile factories... Margreet Vrieling, FWF [Fair Wear Foundation] Associate Director [notes that] “[b]rands should not turn a blind eye hoping that it won’t affect their supply chain.”... FWF works to improve labour conditions in the garment industry... [Companies affiliated with] FWF...engage with their manufacturers to find solutions to labour issues in their supply chain... Child labour was on the decline in Turkey until the influx of Syrians fleeing the conflict turned the tide. In surveys conducted among Syrians in Turkey, Support for Life (SFL), a humanitarian agency, found almost a third of Syrian households in Istanbul [at least one child is working]... Garment companies that join FWF commit to implementing the FWF Code of Labour Practices step-by-step, including its provisions on child labour, which mirror those of ILO... [FWF acknowledges that] [b]rands that only account for a small percentage of a factory’s production have limited leverage to demand changes, which is why [it] encourages cooperation between members sourcing from the same suppliers to boost their influence... Creating an environment in which garment companies can be more honest about the darker sides of the industry and engage constructively with their suppliers would be an important step towards preventing child labour...

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7 August 2017

Turkey & Myanmar: Garment brands make progress toward tackling child labour

Author: Sophie Koers (Fair Wear Foundation, on behalf of Continental Clothing, UK), Takko (Germany), Heigo (The Netherlands), Fristads Kansas Group (Sweden)

"Clothing brands play an important role in tackling child labour"

... With increasing frequency, Syrian refugee children are being found in Turkish factories that produce clothing for the European market... Companies affiliated to Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) are stepping up to take responsibility for working conditions in their supply chains... The FWF member signatories to this letter have all recently found and remediated cases of child labour in their supply chains... [For example, recently] [d]uring an inspection of [a] subcontractor on the brands’ behalf, FWF discovered five children working [at the factory]. All brands involved handled quickly [and] ensure[d] [in collaboration with the factories] that the children stopped working as soon as possible. [The brands and factory also ended up providing for the children's education and income compensation, by] continuing to pay the children wages until they are old enough to work legally... The sustainable solution is for brands to use their influence to prevent child labour from happening – or recurring if found. [FWF advises its member signatories to] [u]nderstand [their] supply chain and the risks of (hidden) subcontractors... [However,] [c]lothing brands alone cannot eliminate child labour. To achieve that, a joint approach is needed, involving governments, factories, trade unions and others. [This] change won’t happen overnight, but [in the meantime] the industry can use its economic influence in a coordinated manner to support positive changes at factories...

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