Search Report
2022 Sustainability Report
published 2023/08/01

We say NO to child labor

VAUDE takes a firm stance against child labor and has consistently campaigned for the rights of children in the 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 in our production sites, all of our producers are obligated to refrain from employing children and to following regulations for employing youth. 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. Exploitation, slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, serfdom and forced labor are prohibited. Young people aged 15-18 are subject to special protections. They 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.”

According to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, child labor is a industry risk. We have identified the following risks in our supply chain:

  • Adolescent workers working overtime
    What are we doing about it? We conduct regular audits and organize trainings on a regular basis. In addition, we visit the production facilities as part of our follow-up on corrective action plans. During these visits, we review the working hours and get an up-to-date picture of the situation, allowing us to take immediate action if any issues are identified.

All the risks listed here are potential risks that we have identified in our production countries and have a higher likelihood of occurrence. (see also Risk Overview)

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 Fair Wear. Auditors check carefully whether there are cases of child labor. This is verified through interviews inside 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 audit

The Fair Wear 2022 audits show that there were no cases of child labor for our producers.

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 our cooperation with Fair Wear, we are convinced that we have been able to eliminate child labor as best we can. However, if a case of child labor should arise, we will respond immediately and initiate concrete measures with Fair Wear. 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 in child labor

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. Fair Wear 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 openness 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 Fair Wear 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 Fair Wear 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. Fair Wear participated in making the measures possible and monitoring them.

Fair Wear assembled a team in Turkey to supervise this case and the affected families for the entire duration of the project.

  • The families have signed a declaration of intent, committing to sending their children to school and confirming that they will no longer send them to work.
  • The parents received financial compensation for the loss of income caused by their children's absence from work.
  • Fair Wear, together with the producer, sought a school where Syrian refugee children could be accommodated.
  • The children have been enrolled in school since September 2015.
  • They were supported by VAUDE until March 2018.

What is the current status?

The measures have been completed. As agreed, VAUDE supported the families until March 2018.

GRI:   408-1
Operations and suppliers at significant risk for incidents of child labor
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