On August 22, 2018, the Hesse Landtag passed the new funeral ordinance. One important change: Municipalities may in future ban tombstones made with exploitative child labor from the cemeteries. The new ordinance allows municipalities to ask for a complete documentation or equivalent certificates as proof of production without exploitative child labor.
TASPO: “Neues Friedhofs- und Bestattungsgesetz in Hessen”
For years, the prohibition of gravestones from child labor in NRW has been suspended by decree. With that, it is still possible to set up tombstones from child labor in NRW. Even worse: It is not possible for municipalities and church cemetery authorities to ban gravestones from child labor – because the legal basis in NRW is missing or is on ice.
Background: The funeral law was already adjusted in 2014 so that grave stones from child labor were banned ( we reported ). However, the then red-green state government wanted to further safeguard itself and commissioned reports to examine the legal situation and the existence of child labor in countries of origin (including India, China, Turkey). Until the expert opinion was issued, the ban was suspended by a decree in April 2015. (we reported)
Meanwhile, the reports are available: The reports showed, among other things, that child labor can be expected in Indian quarries. (we reported) Of which even quarries can not be excluded, in which material is produced for grave stones. Nevertheless, the state government has not enforced the prohibition of such gravestones until today.
What many do not know: Even if there is no child labor in an Indian quarry, the working conditions for adult workers are sometimes so catastrophic that after a few years of unprotected work in such a quarry, they will get the deadly and incurable disease of silicosis. This also applies to highly industrialized quarries in the south of India , as long as they are not using wet-processing or work with adequate respiratory protection (FFP2). That means: Regardless of the issue of child labor of gravestones, there is a lot to be said for keeping the working conditions in Indian quarries independently controlled so that this does not happen anymore!
On the occasion of the Day Against Child Labor, we call on the government in North Rhine-Westphalia to fulfill its responsibilities and finally ban gravestones from child labor effectively in NRW.
The prohibition on erecting gravestones from countries in which exploitative child labor predominates must now also be rigorously implemented. So the conclusion of Prof. Dr. med. Walter Eberlei of the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf (HSD), whose book “Grave stones aus Kinderhand” has just been published. The book presents the results of a study on child labor in the natural stone sector of important supplier countries for Germany. According to this information, stones from India, Vietnam and the Philippines provide evidence of child labor in the natural stone sector, which is highly probable in China. More than half of all tombstones erected in Germany come from India and China.
In 2014, the North Rhine-Westphalian Landtag changed the NRW funeral law and banned the erection of tombstones from countries whose natural stone sector is in violation of the international law ILO convention against exploitative child labor. Stones from such countries may only be used if they have been certified as child labor free. However, the implementation of the law was suspended by decree because there was no clarity as to which supplier countries the certification requirement should apply to. The study of the HSD political scientist eliminates this ambiguity.
Professor Eberlei: “All federal states are obliged to implement in their laws the convention of international law ratified by Germany against child labor.”
The now published book on the topic contains detailed country analyzes on India, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil as well as summary evaluations. A ten-person team of scientists, also from affected supplier countries, participated in the study. Client for the research was the state government in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Walter Eberlei (ed.): Gravestones from the hands of children. Child labor in quarries of the global South as a political challenge. Frankfurt / M .: Brandes & Apsel, 2018.”
Please refer to: Press release
The Sternsinger campaign will be held this year on the topic “United against child labor – in India and worldwide”. The Three Kings Sing, which is considered to be the largest children’s charity campaign for children worldwide, draws children from house to house and collects for social projects worldwide. In 2018, the focus will be on the fight against exploitative child labor. The star singers have put together interesting materials, which we recommend:
Das Werkheft (German)
“The workbook for Aktion Dreikönigssingen 2018 clearly explains what exploitative child labor worldwide means: Methods and games pick up on the topic and show what we can do about it in Germany.”
Sternsinger Spezial (German)
“In our campaign magazine 2018, we visit India: In no other country in the world are so many children working under exploitative conditions. We are accompanying our project partners to a village whose inhabitants live from carpet weaving, and showing the day-to-day working children there.”
Film: Willi in Indien (German)
“This year, reporter Willi Weitzel was traveling for the Star Singers in India, where he met children who have to work every day from an early age, often under exploitative and dangerous conditions.”
On June 12, 2017, the book “Kleine Hände – Großer Profit” by Benjamin Pütter has been published. The presentation of the work of XertifiX in the book makes it necessary to provide explanatory remarks:
It is the great merit of Pütter that he initiated and founded XertifiX with others. As a long-term honorary manager, he has done a tremendous amount of work and contributed significantly to the fact that the subject of child labor in the natural stone industry became known to the German public. By way of XertifiX in the first few years, child labor in the Indian natural stone industry has been significantly combated.
With the change of CEO and first chairman and the changed requirements for seals, however, XertifiX has also undergone a change in understanding that it is not enough to issue a seal in which there is no child labor but inhuman working conditions, e.g.
- the adult workers must work seven days without a break,
- work safety is not respected, so that there are regularly injuries, life-threatening or fatal accidents,
- the workers are not given personal protective equipment so that they become deaf or are dying early
- basic environmental protection measures are disregarded.
Common press release from the
IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt, Union of Education and Science (GEW)
Hannover / Frankfurt am Main – On the occasion of the Day against Child Labor, we want to point out the great successes in the fight against child labor. When XertifiX was founded together with the IG BAU in 2005, the main focus of our work was to comply with ILO core work standards. Through the controls in Indian quarries – especially unannounced ones – XertifiX has succeeded in the fact that in the quarries and factories controlled by XertifiX, fewer and fewer child laborers have been found over the years and today no children are working there.
From 2012, we have focused our work on improving the working conditions of adults, since 2014 also in China and Vietnam. There, too, no child laborers have been found in the natural stone industry in recent years. “Today, the partly catastrophic working conditions of adult workers are the focus. Anyone who buys gravestones, paving stones or kitchen tops does not realize that they are mostly produced at the expense of the health of the Asian workers, “says XertifiX chairman Ingrid Sehrbrock,” unless reliable certificates ensure decent working conditions and living wages. This is the work of XertifiX”.
The SZ author Björn Stephan receives the Axel Springer Prize
For his report on child labor in the Indian gravestone industry
In the report, Björn Stephan and Benjamin Pütter have shown that Indian children have to work for the production of tombstones. These are gravestones that have been found in German cemeteries. This fact of the child labor for Indian gravestones, which can be sold also here in Germany, is continually denied by the local industry.
The regional government of NRW has recently published a scientific study on the topic, which states that “in addition to the legal formulations in the BestG NRW, it must be noted that in India in the production of natural stoneone must assume the existence of the worst forms of child labor …”
Congratulations to Björn Stephan for the prize!
Siehe: Axel Springer Prize
Siehe SZ-Beitrag Die Kindergräber
New scientific study commissioned by the Ministry of Health NRW
The study clearly shows that in India, the worst forms of child labor are also to be found in the natural stone sector. This also applies to the Vietnam and Philippines countries. For China, child labor is involved in various economic sectors. In addition, large quantities of natural stone are imported from India to China and then (if necessary further processed) exported to Germany. It is to be assumed that a part of the natural stones purchased from China originally came from India.
- Kinderarbeit im Naturstein-Sektor in Indien (deutsch)
- Kinderarbeit im Naturstein-Sektor Chinas (deutsch)
- Kinderarbeit im Naturstein-Sektor der Philippinen (deutsch)
- Kinderarbeit im Naturstein-Sektor in Vietnam (englisch)
- Kinderarbeit im Naturstein-Sektor: Wissenschaftliche Studie zu §4a des Gesetzes über das Friedhofs- und Bestattungswesen des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (Bestattungsgesetz – BestG NRW)