Gap under fire for sweatshop practices,
asserts record against child labor
By Ari Burack
October 30, 2007
Gap Inc. officials said yesterday the clothing retailer continues
to investigate one of the company's long-time Indian vendors that
illegally subcontracted services to a New Delhi sweatshop found
to be employing children.
The British newspaper The Observer on Sunday reported children
as young as 10 had been found making children's clothes in filthy
conditions without pay.
The company quickly responded Sunday, saying "a very small
portion" of an order for its GapKids line of children's clothing
had indeed been illegally subcontracted out by one of its vendors.
"As soon as we were alerted to this situation, we stopped
the work order and prevented the product from being sold in stores,"
Gap North America President Marka Hansen said in a written statement.
Hansen went on to say that violations of the company's child
labor prohibition are "extremely rare" and that company
officials will meet this week with its Indian suppliers to reinforce
The company released a statement saying the illegally employed
children are being cared for by local government agencies.
"As our policy requires, the vendor with which our order
was originally placed will be required to provide the children
with access to schooling and job training, pay them an ongoing
wage and guarantee them jobs as soon as they reach the legal working
age," said Gap Inc.'s Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility
"Our investigation into this matter continues and we will
take immediate and appropriate action with the vendor and their
unauthorized sub-contractor," Henkle said. "We reiterate
that under absolutely no circumstances is it acceptable for children
to produce or work on products," he added.
According to Gap Inc. spokeswoman Kris Marubio, the company has
employed this particular New Delhi vendor for 15 years. The vendor
itself employs 4,000 workers, she said.
"We have inspected their facilities throughout the years
and we continued working with them," Marubio said. She added
that she had no information on if or when the vendor would be
penalized or terminated.
"We've had a code of vendor conduct for years," Marubio
said. "We have always been against child labor, this is nothing
Gap Inc. terminated business with 23 factories in 2006 for various
violations of the company's code of vendor conduct, including
those related to worker's hours, wages and child labor, according
Gap Inc. employs vendors in hundreds of countries in North and
Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, Mexico, Central and South America,
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