Dutch companies sell granite mined by Indian child laborers: report

An abandoned granite quarry
An abandoned granite quarry. Photo: Johan Jönsson / Wikimedia Commons

At least three Dutch companies sold granite that came from quarries in India using child laborers or debt slaves, according to a study by Dutch groups Landelijke India Werkgroep, Stop Kinderarbed and Kerk in Actie, newspaper Trouw reported on Thursday.

The study focused on South Indian states. The researchers investigated the working conditions in 22 quarries and at six locations where granite is processed. In seven quarries they found child labor and in nine debt slavery - where someone is forced to work unpaid to settle debt. 

Using customs data from the Indian ports, the researchers determined which companies bought granite from the investigated quarries. Dutch companies Jetstone, Michel Oprey & Beisterveld (MO&B) and Kerasom were found to buy granite from quarries with questionable working conditions. They bought the granite through intermediaries, not directly from the quarries. 

All three companies told Trouw that they are already taking action against abuses in the natural stone industry and that they will insist that their intermediaries only work with quarries with good working conditions.

The researchers also mentioned a fourth Dutch company, but in a very positive way. Arte di Grinato is affiliated with The Forest Trust, which works for environmental and human rights. "I also go to India twice a year myself to make sure we work with the right quarries", Niels van den Beucken, financial director of Arte di Grinato, said to the newspaper. According to him, working through an intermediary is a bad choice. "If you want to fight child labor, you have to do something yourself. Otherwise nothing happens."

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