Under no circumstance is it acceptable for child, forced or trafficked labor to be employed within our operations or used in the production of any Gap Inc. product. Recent legislation has supported global awareness and we annually report our actions to uncover and protect against these issues within our U.K. Modern Slavery Act and California Transparency in Supply Chain Act disclosures. While we have not discovered instances of forced or child labor in our supply chain in recent years, we remain vigilant about these issues and detail our comprehensive management approaches to both.
We do recognize that it is a deeply complex issue that is inextricable from the broader issues of poverty and economic development. Our Human Rights Policy and our COVC explicitly prohibit the use of child labor. We require our supplier facilities to establish robust age-verification processes to prevent employment of children or underage workers. We also work to ensure that facilities respect local laws and international standards related to employing younger workers who are not children.
During facility visits, our Supplier Sustainability team interviews workers and managers about recruitment and hiring, labor practices and working conditions for young workers. They check for lawful, unaltered documents to verify workers’ ages, since workers can go to great lengths to obtain counterfeit documents. Our teams also monitor whether facilities are upholding labor laws and standards for legal young workers.
In the rare event that we encounter child labor at an approved facility, we take immediate action to resolve the issue, including:
- removing young workers from the facility
- making sure workers have access to education or appropriate training, receive an ongoing wage and are guaranteed a job if they choose to work at the facility when they are older; and
- requiring the offending supplier to pay for all remediation costs
Uzbek and Turkmen Cotton
It has been well established that the governments of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have long relied on forced child labor and/or forced labor to harvest their country’s cotton. We have worked to educate and influence our suppliers and facilities on this issue, making it clear that we will not accept any clothing manufactured with fabrics that were made from Uzbek or Turkmen cotton. We were pleased to read reports from the ILO that acknowledged significant improvements in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector. We recognize that further reforms are necessary, but we are pleased to see progress on this critical issue.
Samie’s Finishing House
In a 2013 feature, Al Jazeera television alleged that Samie’s Finishing House in Bangladesh was using child labor to produce clothing for Gap Inc. Samie’s Finishing House is not an approved supplier of Gap Inc. Our investigation revealed that the clothes in question were rejected product that an approved Gap Inc. supplier had passed on without removing our labels and destroying or repurposing them, as our policy requires.
While Gap Inc. had no direct involvement with Samie’s Finishing House, we wanted to help the 10 children who were found working there. Eight of them, ranging in age from 12 to 15 years old, agreed to accept our offer to help them go to school. We commissioned Impactt, an organization specializing in ethical trade and human rights, to implement the remediation program.
Impactt met with the children and their families in the Dhokin Khan slum area of Dhaka, helped the children enroll in school, and conducted follow-up visits. The children and their parents reported that their lives have improved significantly since the children started school. One child said, “Before my life was filled with work, but now I have classmates with whom I can play outside school hours.” Another added, “These days the smile on my face never goes away. I really feel happy in my new life.”
The parents reported that the remediation program provided their children with opportunities that they didn’t have before – such as the chance for an education and a healthier life. Both the parents and children were happy to spend more time together, and the parents said they could now plan a future for their children.
Teachers of the children said that the students were very interested in class and were studying a range of subjects, including Bengali, English, math, science and social science.