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Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Bureau of International Labor Affairs

ILAB Press Release: Child Labor Meeting To Discuss Product Labeling, Consumer Education Presidential Apparel Task Force Members Testify Before Labor Department [04/18/1997]

For more information call: (202) 219-8211

In a public hearing held today, the Labor Department began gathering information on product labeling to ensure American consumers that imported goods are not manufactured with exploitative child labor.

"President Clinton took action this week to eliminate exploitative child labor in the garment industry," said Acting Secretary of Labor Cynthia A. Metzler, who chaired the hearing. "Today's hearing will help identify ways to involve American consumers in efforts to eradicate child labor."

The hearing, held by the Labor Department's International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), will provide information on how to combat the abuse and exploitation of child labor in the production of goods--particularly footwear, soccer balls, carpeting and tea--imported into the United States. The agency is particularly interested in the feasibility of industry labeling to counter exploitative child labor but will also consider various other voluntary efforts that have been initiated by manufacturers, importers and retailers.

The International Labor Organization estimates roughly 250 million children work worldwide, the vast majority of whom are in developing countries. Millions work in unhealthy and impoverished conditions.

Testimony from today's hearing, attended by members of President Clinton's Apparel Industry Partnership and Congressional representatives, will help form the basis of a report to Congress. Additionally, the department believes its findings will be useful to the Apparel Industry Partnership.

"President Clinton's announcement of the new industry-implemented monitoring methods sends the message that America will not tolerate the exploitation of child labor," said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs Andrew Samet. "We know when companies monitor for abusive child labor, progress is made and such horrible conditions are diminished."

Samet said that labeling is the next logical step to help consumers and industry leaders to combat the scourge. A report on labeling, specifically in the manufacture of footwear, soccer balls, carpeting and tea, will be submitted to Congress this summer.

In addition to the hearing, the ILAB Child Labor Study will continue to research other ideas and accept written comments from the public. Furthermore, department officials plan to examine on-site conditions in the above mentioned industries.

Three other reports were submitted prior to the one currently being researched. "By The Sweat And Toil Of Children: The Use Of Child Labor In American Imports," "By The Sweat And Toil Of Children, Vol. II: The Use Of Child Labor In U.S. Agricultural Imports & Forced And Bonded Labor" and "The Apparel Industry And Codes Of Conduct: A Solution To The International Child Labor Problem?".

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
April 18, 1997
Media Contact: David Roberts
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