13 mei 2006
Dutch fashion house eradicates child labour in India
Gloria Kok is one of the key speakers at a conference on child labour, held today by the India Committee of the Netherlands. It is through this Committee that some eight years ago Gloria Kok got acquainted with the Indian NGO Save, that plays an important role in the strategy of the Dutch fashion company to eradicate child labour. Gloria Kok: "For us, improving the lives of the people who work for us is part of our business philosophy. This, of course, means that there is no child labour in the two factories in Tirupur in South India that produce our clothing, but we wanted to achieve more. Save helped us improve the labour conditions in the factories, like diminishing long working hours, cleaning up the premises, and creating management teams." Cora Kemperman also spends money on English courses, computer training and small credits for employees, combined with a savings system, and on school fees and uniforms for their children.
Save asked the Dutch firm for the same amount of money as spent on social improvements in the factories, in order to help eradicate child labour elsewhere. And Cora Kemperman agreed. Gloria Kok: "Save works with hundreds of volunteers, who come in every little workplace, pick out the children, bring them to their mothers and talk them into school, compensating the mother for the loss of income. As ordinary schools do not accept children with a delay in learning of more than two years, Save has created its own small schools in every slum, providing bridge courses for entrance at state schools. At the same time, Save works with their mothers, encouraging them to save money. Save multiplies this money in order to pay for extended education for children over twelve years."
Gloria Kok admits that her concept of corporate social responsibility costs a lot of time, "but very pleasant time. Without our Indian partner Save we could never have accomplished this. Although I have been in the country a lot of times, I still understand maybe three percent of what is going on. To make this concept work, you really need a local partner."