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Indian textile cos fail to get US clean chit over

source: china textile 2010-08-25  

Caught on the wrong foot for alleged use of child labour and forced labour, Indian apparel exporting industry has not been able to convince big brother US about its seriousness in eliminating labour abuse from the sector.

The $10-billion Indian industry that directly employs six million workforce 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 the apex industry body Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) and Union textile ministry officials met US Department of Labour last week in Washington DC, the last-ditch 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,” Mr Udani added.

India had 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 LLP 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,” Mr Udani said.

There is however, a cache here. The report is expected in one-and-half-month, too late to come to the rescue of the Indian garmenting industry as the TVPRA list is expected to come in September. Although it might spell bad news for the industry whose reputation will be at stake for unethical practices, Mr 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.

We do not want to have a shoddy job at the report fearing being blacklisted because we are looking at long-term implications of the same,” he reasoned.