Search Report
2017 Sustainability Report
published 2018/08/01

We say NO to child labor

VAUDE is strictly 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 a 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.”

An obligation in and of itself is not enough, of course. Therefore, all of our producers are regularly and independently audited by organizations such Fair Wear Foundation. 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 (FWF) audit

FWF 2017 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 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 will 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 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. 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 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 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. The FWF assembled a team to attend to this case and the affected families over the entire project in Turkey.

What is the current status?

The FWF has put together a team in Turkey to look after this case and the families concerned for the entire duration of the project.

  • 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.
  • Die FWF, together with the producer looked for a school where the Syrian refugee children could be accommodated.
  • The children have been enrolled in school since September 2015.
  • They were supported by VAUDE until March 2018.
GRI:   408-1
Operations and suppliers at significant risk for incidents of child labor
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