Dec 3, 2007
Gap, the American clothing company, outsources its production to factories in poorer countries. Ten% of its suppliers are in India. Who are these Indian laborers making Gap blouses? Children ten years old, who report beatings, injuries and long working hours in horrible conditions for miserable wages. Even worse, some of the children aren’t paid at all. They work simply to pay back the debt their parents owe to the factory owner.
Gap couldn’t deny the story, reported in an October edition of the British paper The Observer. But it claims the charges are no longer true, that it was just one bad business arrangement. The bosses of Gap pretend to condemn child labor and insist their sub-contractors stop employing it.
This year, fearing a fall in profits, Gap told its stock holders it would find savings. It laid off 2200 workers from its stores in the U.S., Europe and Japan. And we can be sure that Gap put pressure on their Indian sub-contractors to find cost savings. The Indian bosses also want to hold onto their profits. So they exploit children instead of adults. Even though child labor under the age of 14 years is prohibited, officials estimate there are 55 million child laborers in India under 14.
Gap and many other Western multinationals understand perfectly well what is going on. That’s why they send their production to India – to profit from the low wages there, that is, from child labor.