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Gap Inc. boosts action against child labor


SAN FRANCISCO Gap Inc. Wednesday announced that it has taken further steps to ensure its commitment to social responsibility, following allegations that underage labor was used to make a GapKids product at an unauthorized, makeshift facility in India.

Gap Inc. said that after it had learned of the allegations last month, it launched an investigation, cancelled the product order in question and made sure the garment would never be sold. The company added that the embroidery subcontractor involved was immediately prohibited from any future Gap Inc. production.

The company reported that it discovered that one of its approved vendors contracted with a small embroidery company to have hand embroidery work done on a GapKids product in an approved rural community center. At some point, a small portion of these goods was sent through an unauthorized facility in New Delhi where at least one child was seen working on the product. Gap Inc. said that this was a violation of its vendor compliance agreement and code of vendor conduct. Though the company said that the use of child labor was not known to Gap Inc. or the vendor, the company is still holding itself and the vendor accountable.

As for vendor accountability, Gap Inc. said that it is suspending 50% of orders placed with the vendor for a minimum of six months and placing the vendor on probation.. During this probationary period, the vendor must also make significant improvements to its oversight of its subcontractors who handle this type of work. The company will also make every effort to ensure that orders that would have been placed with the vendor during this probationary period will go to other approved vendors in India so that there is not an adverse impact on the country’s workers.

Gap Inc. said that in order to help ensure that hand embroidery and beadwork is done under safe conditions, it will be partnering with Global March Against Child Labour and other organizations to develop a program that would provide independent oversight and monitoring of the flow of goods and of facilities where embroidery and other specialty work on its garments is done.

In addition, the company said it is expanding its financial support to help tackle problems such as child labor and unsafe working conditions in India’s garment industry.

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