Dutch documentary underscores high risk of child labour in Bangladesh

Tonight, Dutch television network VPRO broadcast the second episode of the documentary series De Slag om de Klerewereld which provides an insight in the Bangladeshi garment industry. Tonight’s programme addresses the risks of unauthorised subcontracting and child labour in Bangladesh.

Fair Wear Foundation welcomes efforts to show consumers the conditions under which their clothes might be made. Regrettably, during the filming of this documentary, labels designed for FWF member Continental Clothing were found in a label factory that appears to employ underage workers.

Immediate investigation
‘This is the first time for us that such an allegation has been made, and even though it’s only a label-making sub-contractor, not the main supply chain, we take this matter very seriously’, says Mariusz Stochaj from Continental Clothing. ‘We will start investigations immediately and work closely with Fair Wear Foundation to establish the facts and decide what remedial action to take. If there are indeed underage workers involved, we will do whatever it takes to ensure their welfare.’

In high-risk countries like Bangladesh, serious problems will inevitably be found in most supply chains. When this happens, FWF requires that its member brands address these problems head-on. In the case of child labour, FWF’s policy is to ensure that the children get out of the factory and a suitable place is found for them in school or in vocational training. They should also be paid their full salary until they reach the legal working age.

Complaints helplines
As this situation illustrates, even brands like Continental that have been very active in reducing risks in their supply chain, and which were highly rated in their last FWF Brand Performance Check, cannot guarantee that their supply chain is 100% fair.

For this reason, FWF offers complaints helplines in 14 major garment producing countries.  When garment workers feel that their rights are being violated, or when others see this happen, they can report their complaint. FWF and the brand in question will immediately launch an investigation and remediate the issues according to the findings.  FWF publically reports on the progress of resolving complaints.

Child labour
FWF and Continental Clothing have decided to use the complaints procedure to investigate this matter, and develop a plan to remediate the issues. You can read the initial complaints report here.

FWF is aware that illegal subcontracting and child labour are very high risks issues in Bangladesh. While FWF and its local partners are well-placed to work on these issues, remediating child labour is a complex process. Learn more about this in our country plan for Bangladesh, our policy on child labour or in this research paper on our WellMade website.

Related programmes