Caught in allegations of use of child labour and forced labour, Indian apparel exporting industry has not been able to convince the US about its seriousness in eliminating labour abuse from the sector.
The $10-billion Indian textile industry that directly employs 6 million to make apparel for the world’s best brands is feared to find mention in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act (TVPRA List) which will be prepared by the US in September 2010.
Even as industry body Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) and Union Textile Ministry officials met the US Department of Labour officials in Washington, the efforts are feared to do little to save India from finding mention in the TVPRA List for the second year in succession.
“It is likely that we find India being repeated in the TVPRA list that is up for review in September 2010,” said AEPC Chairman Premal Udani. “While the US has understood that we are serious about eliminating child labour and hence, have been engaging in dialogue with them, they have told us that they need to see things moving at the ground level,” Udani added.
India found itself on the list in September 2009 following which it had stepped up efforts to plug the loopholes. APEC has in the recent past drafted a common compliance code for the industry in line with the global industry and engaged US attorney Brenda Jacobs from Sidley Austin to lobby for India in the US.
India is banking on a report on child labour that is currently being prepared by the Northern India Textile Research Association. “Considering the report will detail the nature of workforce employed in the industry with instances from export clusters around the country, we believe the US will have to take us seriously,” Udani said.
However, the report is expected in one-and half-month, too late to come to the rescue of India`s mention in TVPRA list, expected in September.
Although it might spell bad news for the industry whose reputation would be at stake for unethical practices, Udani, is unfazed. “It is a mere revision of the list and there cannot be anything more dramatic than that. We, however, have work cut out for ourselves to eliminate child labour from the industry.