In the 1990s, increasing quantities of granite blocks and gravestones from India entered the German market. A number of large-scale importers were beginning to dominate the market, offering imported stones at dumping prices. Many small and medium-size stonemasons were forced to either file for bankruptcy or participate in the globalized trade system themselves and start importing from India. That was exactly what a group of of stonemasons from Freiburg (Signum-Grabzeichen with Joerg Bollin, Michael Storr, Dieter Schindler and Burkhard Krupp) in the south-west of Germany decided to do. However, rather than just import any kind of stones, they wanted to establish trade relations based on non-exploitative principles.
They got in touch with Benjamin Pütter, expert for child labour for the German funding agency MISEREOR, and asked him to inspect Indian quarries and make sure that they did not use child and bonded labour. Pütter and the stonemasons were shocked to find many children under 18 years in those export quarries that were inspected without prior announcement, and that many of the adults working there had to work off debts and received no wages, or wages that were far below the minimum wage level.
In other words, after decades had passed, that there would be little objection against the working conditions in export quarries, one could no longer deny the fact that there is child labor in Indian export quarries! These discoveries led to the idea of a certificate for stones from India produced without child and bonded labour, and in 2005 the registered society XertifiX Germany was founded.
Since 2006 XertifiX controls Indian quarries and stone processing factories. There we make sure that no child labor or slave labor takes place, that all the ILO core labor standards are followed, and the working conditions of adult workers are gradually improved. Since 2014 XertifiX is in China and Vietnam active and let also there control quarries and stone processing factories on the compliance with the XertifiX standard. XertifiX is the the first ever to have made known worldwide this subject and sensitized since then consumers, trade, and the public for responsible shopping of natural stones.
It is the motto of XertifiX that future chances for children are opened up through fair and safe working conditions for adults plus good schools and training opportunities. From the outset of XertifiX, we have therefore worked with a German relief organization for the implementation of social projects for children. In 2013 XertifiX Sozialprojekte e.V. has been founded, whose Indian partners conduct social projects. The speciality of XertifiX: Through the controls we locally determine the need for support in quarry areas, whereas XertifiX Sozialprojekte e.V. can help those affected directly with our Indian partners.