Search Report
2016 Sustainability Report
published 2017/08/01

We say no to child labor

VAUDE is strictly against child labor and has consistently campaigned for the rights of children in its production countries. Giving children the right to attend school and keeping them out of the labor market helps paves the way to a successful and productive future.

In order to implement this at our production sites, all of our producers are obligated to abstain from employing children and to following regulations for employing adolescents. The obligation is as follows:

“There shall be no use of child labor. The age for admission to employment shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling and, in any case, not less than 15 years. There shall be no forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labor. [...] Children [in the age of 15-18] shall not perform work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm their health, safety or morals.”

An obligation in and of itself is not enough, of course. Therefore, all of our producers are regularly and independently audited by organizations such as the Fair Wear Foundation. Auditors check carefully whether there are cases of child labor. This is verified through interviews within and outside the production site and by reviewing documents.

  • How does recruitment take place?
  • Is there proof of age?
  • Do adolescents work overtime?

Results of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) Audits

Our FWF 2016 Audits show that there were no cases of child labor for our producers. Nevertheless, there was one finding in this category as one producer did not follow regulations for adolescent workers. We met with our producer and analyzed the findings to see how this happened and remedied the situation.

Risk of child labor in the textile industry

We are aware that cases of child labor are repeatedly encountered in the textile industry. Through our long-standing partnership with the majority of our producers and cooperation with the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) are we convinced that we have been able to eliminate child labor as best we can. However, if a case of child labor should arise, we would respond immediately and initiate concrete measures with the FWF. This would include, among other things, immediately removing the child from the production facility, VAUDE financing an education for the child and compensating parents for the loss of earnings.

Exemplary assistance for child labor case

In 2014 an incidence of child labor was discovered at a production site in Turkey that was under contract for VAUDE, which shocked us all. It was important to us at VAUDE to react quickly and constructively and to discuss the issue openly. The FWF also advocates that the issue isn’t treated as taboo but rather discussed in order to make genuine progress for children. By setting an example with openess and best practices, we can raise awareness in the industry and address the issue proactively.

This case involved five Syrian refugee children aged 12 to 14 years that were encountered during the audit in 2014 of unauthorized subcontractors. 

More about Syrian refugees in the Turkish textile industry here

VAUDE and the two other FWF member companies along with the Turkish producer who commissioned the subcontractors committed themselves to supporting the children until they reached the age of 15. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was drafted and signed by all parties.

Content of the MoU:

  • We will jointly ensure that the children attend school.
  • We will jointly attend to financial support for the parents until the children are 15 years of age. The total amount will be divided among the three member companies of the FWF and the Turkish producers.
  • We will ensure that the school education of the children will be supervised and monitored.

It was agreed upon that the payments, verification of school attendance and the implementation of all measures would occur as scheduled. The FWF participated in making the measures possible and monitoring them.

What is the current status?

The FWF assembled a team to attend to this case and the affected families over the entire project in Turkey. 

  • The families signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in which they agreed to send their children to school and to confirm that they not send the children to work.
  • The parents received financial compensation for the loss of income from the children.
  • Together with the producer, the FWF sought a school for the Syrian refugee children.
  • Since September 2015, the children have been enrolled in school.

GRI:   G4-HR5
Operations and suppliers identified as having significant risk for incidents of child labor, and measures taken to contribute to the effective abolition of child labor
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