Common press release from the
IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt,
Union of Education and Science (GEW)
and XertifiX

International Day against Child Labour

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”.

However, the problem is not solved. A scientific study, commissioned by the regional government of NRW, concludes that “[It] must be noted that the existence of the worst forms of child labor must continue in India, when manufacturing natural stone” (2016)

It is therefore advisable to allow only those grave stones from certain Asian countries, for which an independent, credible seal may be submitted. IG BAU’s deputy Dietmar Schäfers: “There is an urgent need for action for the new state government, as the Act against Prohibition against Child Labor, adopted in 2014, has not been implemented. Serious seals can not only ensure that no children work in the quarries and farms, they also ensure that basic workplace safety and environmental protection measures are implemented. For this we have a high social responsibility. Not only in Germany, but also worldwide in our trade relations. Not least to ensure fair, social competition.”

Marlis Tepe, Chairman of the GEW and the Fair Childhood Foundation, also warns against a one-sided approach to combating child labor: “We can only tackle child labor if we tackle the evil at the root. People need education instead of child labor. The girls and boys must be offered a school offer as an alternative to child labor, the parents need an adequate income and a secure workplace.” The association XertifiX – the GEW has been a member of the association for many years – contributes to improving working conditions in the natural stone sector and that decent wages are paid – and combats child labor in a much more sustainable way than a simple ban could achieve.