November 19, 2001Ms. Carol Bellamy
3 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017 USA
and Child Labour in Sporting Goods Industry
Dear Ms. Carol Bellamy
Greetings from the Global March Against Child Labour!
Throughout our past and recent collaborations, we have appreciated UNICEF's efforts in pursuing the rights of the child and providing various child protection measures for children around the world.
We have recently learned that on this 20 November, UNICEF and FIFA are jointly launching a campaign as part of "Say Yes for Children." We are excited by the potential of such collaborations and congratulate your efforts. Indeed, this initiative can bring further publicity and awareness to issues concerning the rights of the child and give a high profile to the problem of child labour in the sporting goods industry.
Before this campaign is officially launched, the Global March Against Child Labour and its partners in the World Cup Campaign 2002, would like to raise some concerns.
The World Cup Campaign 2002 was launched this year by the Global March to use the 2002 FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to raise awareness around child labour and unfair working conditions in the sporting goods industry. At the launch of the World Cup Campaign 2002 on 31 May 2001, we sent FIFA an appeal urging them to fully implement their Code of Labour Practice including an end to the use of child labour, implementation of fundamental labour rights and provision of living wage for adult workers.
Since May, we have tried on numerous occasions to communicate with FIFA in an attempt to obtain an answer to our appeal. However, they have consistently failed to answer our appeal and have thus denied us the opportunity to fairly represent their position on their current labour practices. Consequently, FIFA has blocked our efforts to truly end child labour and to create fair labour conditions in the sporting goods industry.
We acknowledge that an important step forwards has been made in the football industry by putting in place FIFA-supported inspection systems in Pakistan and India to eradicate child labour. However, despite the present contractual agreement between FIFA and its licensing companies promising the eradication of child labour and fair labour conditions, there is no monitoring or other compliance system in place to ascertain that the hundreds of other FIFA-licensed products are also made without child labour. In India and Pakistan there is only monitoring on child labour, but not on all the other agreed workers' rights.
In addition, as reports released by several respected organisations show, there are still thousands of children stitching footballs in Pakistan and India. For example the report "The Dark Side of Football" published in June 2000 showed that part of the football production for the companies such as Adidas, Mitre and Mundo was hidden from the FIFA-supported monitoring system. Despite the fact that FIFA in a letter acknowlegded the report to be comprehensive and promised to follow up, there was never any further reaction to the report. Also Adidas never reacted.
Our recent communications with field workers in the football manufacturing town of Jalandhar, India emphatically confirms that children continue work while their parents and other adult workers are not even getting paid the minimum wage. The All Pakistan Federation of Trade Unions (APFOL) also reports that children are still working for contractors producing footballs outside the main stitching centres.
The implications of absence of fundamental labour rights and unfair wages to adult workers on the lives of children, especially in terms of children's opportunities to attend school, are certainly well understood by you and your organisation.
How can FIFA form an alliance with UNICEF to publicly support the rights of the child, while continuing to privately ignore the issue of child labour and unfair labour conditions in their own operations?
The Global March is also concerned that UNICEF's "10 Imperatives for Children" does not clearly and explicitly include an end to all forms of child labour, as discussed at a meeting of the Global Movement for Children in London on 30-31 July 2001. We were of the impression that you would be including "the elimination of child labour" as one of your imperatives but have not received any responses on this matter since our meeting in London.
Childhood free from all forms of child labour must be made a top priority as we strive to guarantee the rights of the child, including the fundamental right to education.
The upcoming FIFA/UNICEF Campaign must result in a partnership that truly benefits all children. We understand that some of the UNICEF products launched last year carried the FIFA logo - a symbol which, to this day, fails to guarantee a product free from child exploitation. We would like to seek UNICEF's understanding and collaboration in the World Cup Campaign 2002 by asking that you demand FIFA implement a transparent monitoring mechanism in implementing their Code of Labour Practice, in partnership with trade unions, NGOs, and other UN agencies. We are also working closely with the international trade union movement who share the same concerns.
The 20th November marks the Day for the Rights of the Child. We hope this day in the year 2001 will mark the beginning of sincere collaboration between FIFA, UNICEF and other organisations concerned with securing a meaningful childhood for all children including the many child labourers who continue to work day and night produce footballs and other sporting goods licensed to FIFA.
We look forward to your immediate response prior to the launch of the UNICEF/FIFA Campaign.