III. Implementation Experiences of Codes of Conduct in the U.S. Apparel Industry
As has been reported in Chapter II, 36 of the 42 U.S. retailers and manufacturers of apparel which provided reportable responses to the Department of Labor voluntary survey stated that they had adopted some sort of policy prohibiting child labor in overseas production facilities. These policies takes different forms, from formal public codes of conduct to provisions banning the use of child labor in contracts between the foreign producer and the importing U.S. corporation.
The fact that U.S. retailers and manufacturers of apparel have adopted policies against the use of child labor in the production of garments is a positive step toward the objective of eliminating the use of child labor. Clearly, for such policies to be truly effective, there has to be a commitment on the part of all interested parties to implement them. Consequently, a central objective of this study is to assess the implementation practices of U.S. apparel importers that have policies regarding child labor.
Through the voluntary responses to the survey instrument sent out to U.S. manufacturers and retailers of apparel and follow-up phone interviews with respondents, the Department of Labor learned a great deal about the implementation of codes of conduct from the perspective of the U.S. companies that import the garments and originate the codes. Although these companies have generally been cooperative, company officials responding to the inquiries were not always able to provide definitive explanations regarding specific aspects of the implementation of their policies.
To further review the actual implementation of codes of conduct, Department of Labor officials visited six countries where there is extensive production of garments for the U.S. market. This chapter describes the field visits and summarizes their findings regarding transparency, monitoring and enforcement of codes of conduct - the primary elements identified in Chapter II.