Gap Responds To Child Slave Labor Scandal

The Gap has pledged $200,000 to to improve working conditions in India, where only some forms of child labor are outlawed, and it also promised to tighten its own standards. The retailer canceled half of its orders with the vendor in India that was responsible for subcontracting the workshop in which children who had been sold to the factory were working off the debt by embroidering clothing for Gap Kids.

NPR talks with Amelia Gentleman, the New Delhi bureau chief for the International Herald Tribune. She’s visited illegal embroidery workshops where children put in 16 hour days sewing sequins onto clothing and are paid about $2.50 a day. She says that even though the story got a lot of media coverage, there hasn’t been much of a push to close the workshops down.

“There are so many of these workshops in the streets of central Delhi, just freely visible, and in the immediate aftermath of this Observer expose, which was very heavily reported here, there didn’t seem to be any large scale police action to try and shut these workshops down.”

She says that some companies, like IKEA, get it right. IKEA not only inspects factories, but also farms where cotton for its textiles are grown.

Gap Pledges Better Work Conditions in India [NPR]


Edit Your Comment

  1. keith4298 says:

    Now the kids are still slaves, but with no chance of paying off their debt….thanks GAP. How about using some of that $200,000 to purchase their freedom. It’s the least you can do, considering they are “your” slaves.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    The probably cancled the orders not because of child slave labor, but because nobody is buying GAP clothes anymore.

  3. girly says:

    I’m surprised they are doing even this much.

    I wonder if any of this help will go directly to the children involved, and also how did they select which have of the contracts to cancel?

    With how things are over there right now, something tells me they will even have to provide oversight on any donations they make to end these problems.

    How are “fair trade” legislation efforts going nowadays anyway?

  4. DeeJayQueue says:

    so what does this mean to me as the consumer? That I now get to walk by the ugly sweater that costs $75 instead of $60 and go “Nope, still not buying it.”

  5. HalOfBorg says:

    And the sad part is that most of these people will never find a job that pays as well…… unless they come here to USA and become “Undocumented Americans”.

  6. suburbancowboy says:

    Wow. 200,000 dollars! Wow. that’s what it costs to make like 800,000 pairs of gap jeans.

  7. Buran says:

    Only half the order? How about canceling it all?

  8. bohemian says:

    They could open up a factory somewhere in the south where unemployment is high like NOLA and look like a hero. Or they could open up their own factory in India, have decent working conditions, hire adults to work there for a living wage and open a boarding school for former slave labor children to get an education and their freedom.

    Both would cost more than 200,000 but would show they actually care.

  9. MrEvil says:

    Talk about half-assed retaliation. Gap should have dumped ALL their orders from that outfit and replaced them with a different one that uses automated embroidery machines. They would have had the order filled faster and probably for the same monetary cost.

  10. PaulMorel says:

    “The retailer canceled half of its orders with the vendor”

    I highlighted the key word for everyone.

    That sure is a commitment to abolishing child labor! oh wait …

  11. mexifelio says:

    This is probably really going to hurt the new Spring 2008 tailored ‘by worn out kids for worn out kids’ lineup.

  12. mattatwork says:

    Only $200,000?!?!?! The Gap had $16B in revenues last year. That’s equivalent to someone making $50,000/year donating 62 cents. Glad to see they really care.

  13. axiomatic says:

    Stay classy GAP.

    Never entering your store ever again and neither will my kids or my wife.

  14. BigNutty says:

    Every company that doesn’t inspect the factory where their product is made overseas sets itself up for these type of problems.

    But then so many countries use kid and slave labor if might be difficult to find a factory that meets your standards.

    Wait, what about ordering from a factory from your own country, America? No, too expensive.

  15. Beerad says:

    Wow, $200,000. Considering GAP has revenues of something like $16 billion annually, this costs them, uh, nothing. But gee, America sure likes to shop at places with those cute ads! As long as we’re not directly confronted with the ugly exploitation of workers that globalization permits, who cares! Hooray! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  16. floydianslip6 says:

    They don’t inspect, because they don’t want to know :-p

  17. ManicPanic says:

    Hey, remember the whole Product (Red) line that is still out and overpriced? LOTS of that stuff was made in China. The Inspi(red) shirts were made out of African grown cotton but for the most part I believe manufactured in China. And don’t forget they said they would donate 50% of all PROFITS from the line to people living with AIDS. The lack of transparancy ia troubling.

  18. Myron says:

    200K! They must really care to pony up that kind of money. If you read further down the press release you can see that the CEO is also going to donate a box of old shoes he found in his attic.

  19. Landru says:

    Maybe the logic behind cancelling half of the orders is to reward the company for making the changing their practices. Cancelling completely takes away any incentives to change.

  20. Consumer007 says:

    The answer to all this is open AMERICAN factories, regulated, paying decent wages and for the rest of us to realize that Wal-Mart style prices were something we were NEVER entitled to if it took children being SLAVES to make it that way. Further, the salaries of all CEOs and board members that were made as the result of CHILD SLAVE labor should be confiscated and returned to the children and the consumers.

    Doing what is RIGHT is never CHEAP and EASY.

    However I’d like all the consumers that respond and say “nope I want to pay Wal-Mart prices” to then go to the child slave factories and tell that to children – that they deserve to be beaten, locked up and tortured and never get to play because they deserve low prices.

    Not to mention this practice of out-sourcing our manufacturing economy to child slave farms has meant the death of small-town America and crippling our economy. We are all doomed if Americans import and buy only and don’t export anything except death and war on unarmed countries…

    Well, that’s what you get when you put your economy and your future in the hands of corporations and Republicans…privatization hell.

  21. girly says:

    Why does it have to be a choice between lower prices and paying employees fairly…after all, does a CEO need to make as much as a good chunk of the employees added together?

  22. Consumer007 says:

    Agreed, Girly. Decent CEO’s have already made their money. Why don’t they take the $1 philanthropist compensation package instead of the $32 billion golden parachute good-ol-boy fuch-butt the world package?

  23. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @mattatwork: The best part is they get a tax write off for that 200k.

  24. Beerad says:

    @Landru: “Canceling completely takes away any incentive to change”

    No it doesn’t. If your policy is “we only deal with reputable, non wage-slaveowning companies” than the incentive is that if you stop doing that the company might deal with you again. “Half canceling” only proves that you aren’t serious, and a company can abuse employees and still do plenty of business. Punishment of bad behavior is incentive too, you know.

  25. 5cents says:

    Child labor isn’t always the black & white, clear-cut issue the media makes it out to be. I think it was in this particular case, but it’s not always so. Lots of kids work in India. Not all are “enslaved” or sold to factories. In it’s own cultural way, it is a form of vocational training at young age.

    In any case, the professional consumer, or perhaps, consumerism in general, is ultimately the driving force at this end. Outsourcing has a similar root cause.

  26. Voyou_Charmant says:

    Maybe if those kids made better looking, better fitting and longer lasting kids, people wouldn’t be so mad!

  27. BugMeNot2 says:

    Gap’s new line


    (for kids by kids)


  28. trollkiller says:

    I hope we get that universal healthcare, sounds like you need help affording your meds.

    Seriously, the economy will always be in the hands of those that understand it. Sell for a better price, gain more business. Cheap labor countries do just that. They sell their labor cheaper than we do so they gain business.

  29. Sian says:

    @keith4298: I think you nailed it. Now those kids won’t be able to buy their freedom with easy American money. At least, half of them won’t.

  30. PalmBayChuck says:

    Come on man. What a downer. American’s don’t what to hear that their, “cheaper, cheaper, CHEAPER”, materialistic lifestyles create this sort of market for cheapo labor. They just want their STUFF. Man, as a country we leave a huge footprint on the world.

  31. elf6c says:

    Made for Kids by Kids indeed.

  32. Brad2723 says:

    They only cancelled half of their orders? I guess it’s still ok for the children to make the other half.