See the article on page 10 in the August issue below, or scroll down for text.
Rug News andDesign Magazine August 2014
By the Department of Labor’s own study, child labor in India is a non-problem.
Combining household child labor not living with their parents (148), and factory child labor not living with their parents (270), creates an at-risk population for the handmade rug industry of (418) children under the age of 18, according to a major study paid for by the US Department of Labor covering the years 2009-2011.
By the numbers
According to a one page abstract of the DOL study reprinted here, there were in the hand-made (hand knotted, hand tufted, and hand loomed) export rug business: 7,449 factories and 128,268 households making hand-made products, employing 273,866 workers, of which 13,131 (3.8%) were under 18.
Under 18 is said by many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) to be child labor as defined by ILO Standard 182. Generally you will not find a footnote saying that neither India, nor the USA, has signed acceptance of ILO Standard 182 as setting the standard age for child labor.
This publication has a problem with the math. If you divide the number of workers (273,866) by the number of locations (7,449 + 128,268 = 135,617), you get 2.02 workers per location. This makes no sense on the face of it, unless a large percentage of the workers are unemployed or underemployed at any one time.
Also please note that report writers love specific numbers such as 866, and at this level of analysis, never give you the plus or minus range of possible error.
Where the children live
Working in households
According to the Abstract reprinted: 94.2% of 13,131 children working, (or 12,369) were working in households, and of the 12,369 working in households, 98.8% (or 12,221) were living with their parents.
That means that 148 children in India were not living with their parents, but did work in households that made hand-made rugs.
Working in Factories
According to the Abstract reprinted, 5.8% of the 13,131 children working, 762 were working in factories, and of the 762 working in factories, 64.5% (or 492) were living with their parents.
That means that 270 children in India were not living with their parents, but did work in factories that made handmade rugs.
US Department of Labor
We have reprinted page 9 of a report funded by the US Department of Labor; Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT) titled: “Children Working in the Carpet Industry in India, Nepal, and Pakistan.”
Parents, Households and Factories
Remembering that the standard used is 18 years of age, if a child is living with their parents, it is very difficult to say anything about their working conditions, other than that they have parental consent.
By law and the constitution of India, children working in household businesses are not regulated. Elsewhere in the study, the researchers noted that they found no children “under 14” working on carpets. (My reading of the law is that “under 14” should read “14 and under.” I consider “under 14” to be an editing error.—LS)
The 2010 census of India includes a category 15-19 which does not match the upper limit used by NGO’s to define child labor, but does define child labor as defined by the government of India. I would note that in the USA, most states allow 16 year olds to get a driver’s license, and my wife says that she knew a 17 year old who was both still in high school, and drove a school bus. Can you imagine anything more hazardous than a teenager with a driver’s license?
Households are family environments where presumably everybody directly benefits from the payment for the work product. It is important to note that rug making is based on a piece work basis that allows for sporadic work by different members of the household.
Factory work is defined as paid employment to more than either 10 or 20 workers in one location. With 7,449 factory locations with at least 10 workers per location, employing a minimum of 74,490 workers, that leaves a maximum of approximately 200,000 household workers in 128,268 household locations, approximately 1.5 workers per household location. These workers are, I believe, called marginal workers in the Indian Census data.
At the bottom of the Abstract Page, there is a footnote that estimates from the Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC) were not used in the calculation. This writer has seen their statistics on child labor using Indian National Standards which would make an interesting comparison with the results of the US Department of Labor funded study.
We have asked a number of stakeholders for comments on our article, and will include those that come in prior to publication (in whole or in part) space permitting, or online with the article.
Comments: Leslie Stroh, Sr. Editor