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No child labour in exports: Germany
Published on 12 Jan. 2010 11:47 PM IST
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Germany, concerned over reports that products made using child labour in countries like India were entering its territory, has proposed a certification scheme that will satisfy customers of adequate social standards in imported merchandise. “A reliable form of certification is needed to ensure that no product sold in Germany is manufactured using child labour,” said Karl-Josef Laumann, the minister of labour, health and social affairs from one of Germany’s most populated states. “There is a lot of concern in my country and I have discussed these issues with Indian policymakers,” Laumann, who is from North-Rhine Westphalia, told reporters during a four-day visit to India that concluded Tuesday. According to him, 20 percent of gravestones his state imported was from India. “This is a sensitive issue. People want to be sure that when they rest in peace, no child was involved in carving the gravestones. We need to ensure that our children go to school.” The minister, nevertheless, was assured by an agency involved in promoting trade between the two countries that reports of use of child labour in India, especially in the marbles and stone industry, were exaggerated. “We have ourselves made several surprise visits to these places, including Jharkhand, Bihar and Rajasthan,” said Dietrich Kebschull, chairman of the Indo-German Export Promotion Project, an agency recognised by the commerce ministry. “We can feel reassured that no case of child labour was found, especially in the large stones (business) that are exported to Germany,” Kebschull, who has been promoting trade and economic relations between the two sides for over two decades, told IANS. Laumann said he had discussed these issues with India’s Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and was assured that there were several legislations in place to prevent child labour, as also certifications to assure prospective customers. He also quoted Kharge as saying that India was opposed to linking social standards with trade, and observed: “It’s okay to have differences of opinion. I’m sure official agencies of both countries will work to prevent such situations.” Laumann said Germany, facing the problem of an ageing population, was keen to employ skilled workers from India, which had the largest pool of young workforce. “We would certainly welcome migration of workers. But in a hi-tech society like ours, we will require skilled workers. For such workers you at least need primary education. In Germany, we are providing special vocational courses to train workers.”

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