Like a phoenix, Gap is rising from the ashes of using child labor. In The Guardian today, Gap is looking to create a label designation on their products stating: "child labor free." To most of us, I think this would come as a big no-brainer. I for one, certainly don't think that any of the clothes that I own were created at the hands of children sold into slavery. However, even proponents think this is a bold move. Why? Because, if they are found to have used child labor they could be sued. Really?! So...if you use child labor and you don't have a "child labor free" tag, then it's hunky dory? Really?! So, this really does seem like a good step forward for Gap.
However, there are still some issues.
The first is what happened to the the child labor created Gap smocked girls' shirts? Well, I emailed Gap about this and got a very, very generic response. Sigh. "Jo" the public relations person who sent the letter must be cowering. Anyway, the fact still remains that the clothes should not be destroyed, but I already covered that earlier.
Second, one has to think about the factories themselves. Forget the fact that there are children working in factories (okay, that's a hard one to forget...just put it to the side of your mind for now). What type of factory is it that can have children working in it? Guaranteed, this is a larger issue. It's not like the other adult employees of this (and similar) factories are getting paid minimum wage with full medical and dental, with paid vacations, with 8 hour days including breaks. No. These factories are employing people who have no other (or really few) options. Therefore the factory can pay people crap, expect them to work s**tty hours, fire them at a drop of a hat in a poor work environment.
This thing with Gap is the tip of the ice berg. Good that there will be "child labor free" tags, but like the coffee I drink, shouldn't there be a larger picture addressed, like "free trade" tags??