In 2010 Indian companies provided German companies with about 30000 tons of cobblestone. The cobbles get mainly topped in the quarries of Rajasthan, which is located in the North of India. In this field of operation work about 13 million children in the age of 5 – 14 years.
The working conditions of the kids, where they have to work up to 14 hours a day, are disastrous: The stone gets machined by a huge hammer by the children, without them wearing protection gloves. Additionally, the kids are not wearing any breathing protection, and as a result they inhale the dirty blew up dust. During this exhausting physical work they are exposed to the extremely hot sun. In case the amount of the beaten cobbles is enough, exporters arrive, load the cobblestone on their trucks and give the exhausted children their wages: less than two Cents per cobblestone.
Despite the prohibition of child labor by the Indian government and several initiatives, the problem of child employment in this sector cannot be revealed sufficiently. One of those initiatives is Xertifix, a German certifying company, which tries to track the terms of delivery back to the quarries. Furthermore this institution controls unannounced local quarries on the behalf of German stone dealer.
However improvement is necessary with regard to several aspects:
- In India exists the problem of high bribery, which results e.g. in the situation that the aid payments do not reach the family in need.
- Desperate poverty forces children to work in the quarries.
- Controls in some quarries are sloppy
Nevertheless, foreign stone dealer assess the demand for cobble stones, which create a never ending demand of underpaid work forces due to their aggressive pricing policy. The more companies are involved in the supply chain, the less the individual actor takes over responsibility. Moreover, the price-conscious individual person does not pay attention to official seals like Xertifix, while some companies explain; they have to work profit orientated.
In the end there is just the hope that makes us think that maybe one day, there will be a change of thinking with regard to low price products connected to child labor.