I was very disappointed and irritated to read about the child labour workforce in India used to make Gap clothing. Allegedly (as reported in today’s NOTW via video footage), the children are forced to work long hours in poor working conditions and are beaten if they cry or complain. These clothes are then sold at a huge profit and of course contribute to the millions of pounds made by this American company each year.
When I worked at The Gap in the late nineties as a manager, this issue was still in the forefront of the media. We were told if asked about this subject to just say ‘No comment.’ I just find it terrible to think that ten years on, the Gap have not cleaned up their act and I for one will not shop in their stores and purchase their over priced products, particularly if their exploited work force are paid poorly and consist of forced child labour.
It seems very easy these days for huge profitable companies to move their work forces to poorer countries to save on wages (think Indian call centres), but it seems even easier for these companies to turn a blind eye to inhumane working conditions because the Vice Presidents and CEOs are based in different countries. Gap have retaliated to these claims of forced child labour by vowing to destroy the products in question and investigate further. Well, this company has had years to investigate these claims and although Gap as a made a public committment to ensure forced child labour does not occur, it can surely afford to pay a dedicated staff team to police this area and make sure that staff, hours and working conditions are highly adequate and treated with the respect that every human being deserves.