Success of the film „the story – child labourers“

Award for Rebecca Gudisch and Thilo Gummel

TV3 International Award for „child labourers“
The documentary story „child labourers“ by Rebecca Gudisch and Tilo
Gummel was awarded a prize. The „TV3 International Award“ is endowed
with 10.000 €.
The explanatory statement of the Jury says, the film fulfils the aims of
the reportage at best. It shows the violation of human rights and is a
plea for the defence of the rights of every single person and democratic


Indian Laws against child labour do not help – Children work despite prohibition

According to a survey of the US Department of Labor laws against child labour prove to be ineffective in many countries. “Efforts for the implementation often fail because of insufficient means,” the survey for the US congress says. Governmental inspectors thus are “improperly skilled” and “prone to corruption”.
(abstract out of a report of the German paper “taz”, 2008-08-29)


Fake certificates in cerculation

Since the foundation of the association XertifiX three years ago, certificates are occurring again and again, which are written by Indian companies on inquiry of German trade partners. Such written confirmations of the Indian companies themselves can not be considered to be authentic. Yet the definition of “certificate” says that a certification can not be conducted by oneself, but by professional independent organisations. Only the State or international independent organisations can constitute such an authority. Concerning independent institutions for example a UNESCO-certificate occurred which was revealed as imitation by the responsible people of the real UNESCO. According to the general known UNESCO, this organisation has nothing to do with fair-trade, least of all with Indian stones. Also the organisation UNICEF affirmed that they never released such a certificate.
In terms of so-called governmental certificates it can be reported that the deputy Secretary of Labour, India, who is also chairman of the state commission for the eradication of child labour, asserted in front of the camera of a German film team that such documents are not authored by governmental institutions.
Accordingly, we therefore ask for any information about doubtful certificates. Please contact us.


Possibly Indian stone exporters as XertifX licencees soon / Model quarry in Rajasthan

Possibly Indian stone exporters as XertifX licencees soon

The general mode of operation of XertifiX has been and will continue to be importers signing a licence agreement with XertifiX Germany and their Indian trading partners subsequently being inspected independently (no child labour in the entire value chain).

It now turns out however that there is much discussion in India about products being produced in a „clean“ fashion, and that independent inspections are necessary in order to realize that.

In talks with a natural stone exporter where the main issue was to inform him that his German trading partner wanted him to be inspected by XertifiX, he said that he himself would like to become a licencee: „Why wait for pressure from Germany? It is in my very own interest as well that no exploitative conditions exist in my quarries and the quarries I purchase stones from,“ were his words. „If XertifiX offers independent inspections in order to ensure such conditions, and they furthermore promise to help if problems should arise, then it is a wonderful win-win situation. Why shouldn’t we be prepared to pay 3% extra for that as well?“


Model quarry to be set up in Rajasthan

The World Family Forum is a people’s organisation that has been working for fair trade and other issues for years. Its leader Mr. „Good-do“ is also a businessman working exclusively in fair trade. His company recently bought land in Rajasthan and is planning to set up a model quarry for red granite. In this quarry he wants to implement not only the explicit renunciation of child and bonded labour, but also further safety measures and training programmes for workers. Once the quarry is established he is also planning to sign a licence agreement with XertifiX rather than wait for the decision of his trading partners in the first world.


Benjamin Pütter reporting from his current stay in India

January 13, 2008, Kota – Budhpura – Kota (Sunday)

1. Talk with Mr. Mohan and his daughters in Budhpura

Mr. Mohan

Mr. Mohan is 35 years old [1] and has worked in a quarry for the past thirty years. He now suffers from TB (Silicosis) and is laid low. Now his wife has to work in the quarry in order to feed three of their daughters who still live at home. Two more daughters are already married. His wife, who has to work on Sundays, too, is therefore not at home, earns 50 Rupies a day (90 Euro Cents). She has one day off per month. She works a total of 335 days a year. All this makes it obvious that the family lives far below the poverty line. However, this fact is not recognized by the local authorities and Mr. Mohan is not granted a BLP-card (Below Poverty Line). Without this card however he is not entitled to free medication and other government benefits. Therefore he suffers without any medical assistance. In order to have some medication and see a doctor at least every now and then his twelve year old daughter, who like the others has never been to school, also has to work in the quarry.

Mr. Mohans Töchter

For twelve hours of work (the same as her mother) she earns 20 to 25 rupies (40 to 45 Euro Cents). When I ask her whether she would like to go to school she returns a look that pierces my heart deeply and that I cannot get out of my mind for days to come – with every fibre of her small being she screams „YES, YES, YES“, but her father only succinctly replies on behalf of her: “Rubbish!”

Is there noone in the Indian administration who will take care of this family’s fate? Since Mr. Mohan broke stones that now pave the streets in Germany there ought to be someone in Germany, too, who might like to help here…

Deeply moved and with a very queasy feeling I go on to the

2. Professional conference of the Rotary Club Kota on the issue of child labour in quarriesRotary Club

Once back in Kota I proceed straight to the Rotarians – according to themselves all members of the Indian middle class. For me, who spent the morning with the poorest of the poor, they are the super-rich! Wie auch immer, the chairperson is also an exporter of natural stones to Germany (and a XertifiX licencee) and England and according to his own statement the biggest producer of limestone in India. He did not invite the local Rotarians for this meeting but stone exporters, five representatives each for the different regions in South Rajasthan. Apart from two who are currently abroad all of the came and an extremely interesting and very open dialogue evolved. Sri Om Birla, the parliamentary secretary of state of the government of Rajastan adviser to the prime minister was surprisingly direct and critical towards the stone exporters. Furthermore, representatives of the Ministry of Mines of the central government are present as well.
BodhpuraI learn on site that the situation is particularly tense at the moment because a well regarded report was published in the British press before christmas, accusing all stone producers of illegally employing children and speaking of hundreds of thousands child labourers in the Indian stone export industry alone! The very detailed report in the German magazine „Naturstein“ (12/07) is known here, too, and is being much discussed.

The present exporters rightly ask me to put the facts right and also report on the social measures they have initiated as well as the fact that they are very well aware of the problem of child labour in parts of the stone export industry. They also stress that they are willing to face the challenges and accept independent inspections through XertifiX. If they do utter criticism, it is much more directed towards the rude, exclusively monetarily oriented behaviour of some German importers who, according to some of the exporters, are only interested in maximizing their profits and devoid of all human feeling. Despite these occasional human disappointments it is generally agreed that it should be possible within a couple of years to master the Bodhpuraproblem of child labour. The exporters even agree to start boykott measures against those producers who are not willing refrain from using child labour and who reject independent inspections. They are mainly suppliers from whom the exporters purchase stones. One of the problematic areas mentioned is Bodhpura, where I could personally meet dozens of child labourers only this morning – on a Sunday! All of them work on Kobals for export to Europe.

[1] Honestly: Who would have thought that he is really 35 when looking at his picture?

Pictures: Benjamin Pütter, India 2008


City of Freiburg changes its public procurement guidelines

On October 23, 2007, the City Council of Freiburg decided unanimously to ban products originating from exploitative child labour from the city’s public procurement. On the basis of the EU directive on ethical public procurement, other cities such as Stuttgart, Munich, Bonn, Düsseldorf or Neuss already took similar decisions.

The decision called “Fair Town Hall” refers for example to products such as clothes, carpets, sports equipment, food and also natural stones and paving stones, and it explicitly mentions the XertifiX label in that context.


EU directive on ethical public procurement

More and more German federal states, towns and municipalities pass resolutions banning products produced using exploitative child labour from public contracts and procurement. A directive by the European Union on pubic procurement encourages these initiatives, as public contracts may now also consider criteria other than financial costs. Article 26 of directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts states:
“Contracting authorities may lay down special conditions relating to the performance of a contract, provided that these are compatible with Community law and are stated in the contract notice or in the specifications. The conditions governing the performance of a contract may, in particular, concern social and environmental considerations.”

So far, this directive has not been translated into national law in Germany yet.
For some time now, the federal government has been discussing a reform of public procurement guidelines. However, a survey on public procurement published by the German Advisory Council on Economy and Technology in May 2007 clearly states that financial criteria are to be given clear preference over social and environmental considerations. The survey does intend for a price preference policy that would reward the consideration of non-financial criteria by granting a company fulfilling these criteria a price advantage over fellow competitors. Nevertheless, this policy continues to assign a minor role to social, ecological and fair procurement. It passes over a major opportunity of stopping inhumane working conditions in Indian quarries and elsewhere.


Quarry inspections in Rajasthan

This report about the work of one of our inspectors in Rajasthan was submitted in June 2007. He describes how inspections are conducted, what the working conditions for quarry workers are like, and how little is being done for the children who are not allowed go to school but have to work instead.

Report June 2007



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