WASHINGTON – Data released by the US Department of Labor (USDOL) suggests the use of child labour is rife in global garment and textile supply chains, particularly in cotton cultivation. The Department’s ‘List of Goods produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor’ is broken down into the categories of child labour, forced labour and child & forced labour. The 2018 guide lists 418 line items which contains 148 goods from 76 countries including cotton, footwear, garments, leather, leather accessories and textiles. Garments, textiles and footwear come under most child labour and forced labour listings with 10, 7 and 7 countries, respectively.
In terms of cotton, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Egypt, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Mali, Turkey and Zambia were found to be guilty of practicing child labour in the cotton cultivation process. Pakistan and Uzbekistan are listed under forced labour, while Benin, Burkina Faso, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are listed under both child labour and forced labour.
In garment production, Burma (Myanmar), Turkey and Bangladesh are implicated to be using children for manufacturing clothes for major fashion brands. Burma and Turkey are the newest additions in the 2018 list. Children of ages from 12 to 17, mainly girls, are reported to produce garments in factories concentrated in Yangon, Burma. It is also alleged that children in garment factories are made to lift heavy bags and boxes, and work long hours in poorly ventilated factories.
The report suggests children as young as 10 produce garments in Turkey, including those from the Syrian refugee community.
“These reports represent one of the Department of Labor’s key contributions to the global effort to protect workers in the United States and around the world by defending the rights of all people to live free of child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, and modern slavery,” said US Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta.