Modern slavery, child labour and unsafe work in Indian granite quarries – What should companies do?
New research, commissioned by the India Committee of the Netherlands and Stop Child Labour, reveals that modern slavery, low wages, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions are rampant in granite quarries in South India. In some quarries, especially in waste stone processing, child labour is found.
There is an enormous gap in working conditions between permanent workers (mainly supervisors) and casual workers (70% of the workforce). The first group receives safety equipment, insurance and an employment contract, while the casual labourers doing the dangerous manual work, lack those fundamental labour rights.
The research shows that granite sourced from the investigated quarries is imported by 33 natural stone companies and 3 banks from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and the USA. China is also a major importer, processor and re-exporter of Indian granite for the international market.
Only a few companies are member of a sustainability initiative aiming to improve working conditions in the natural stone sector, but these initiatives still hardly tackle the deplorable working conditions in granite quarries. The draft report was sent to all 36 companies and banks, but only 5 reacted.
Focus on links between quarries and importers
India is a top exporter of granite, widely used for wall and floor tiles, tomb stones and kitchen tops in western countries. Western governments are an important end-buyer of granite for buildings, pavements, public squares etc. Half of the total world exports of raw granite comes from India.
 Arte di Granito, Jetstone, Kerasom, Michel Oprey & Beisterveld in the Netherlands (NLD), Deisl Stein in Austria (AUT); HABU Granit-Marmor, Just Naturstein, Magna Naturstein/Magna Westfalia, M. Lampe Natursteine, Naturstein Risse and Natursteinbetrieb Schult & Co. KG in Germany (DEU); Beltrami NV and Hullebusch NV in Belgium (BEL); Beltrami UK, Blyth Marble, Grantech, KSG UK, mistermarble and Nile Trading UK in the United Kingdom (GBR); Cosentino and Levantina in Spain (ESP); General Stone Trading in Liechtenstein (LIE); Antolini Luigi., Cereser Marmi, Dalle Nogare geom. Sergoil, Marimar, Marmi Bruno Zanet and Tiger Stone in Italy (ITA).Thee companies from the USA are identified: Daltile Corporation, M S International and World Rocks Inc., one in Canada (CAN): Worldwide Stone and one from Australia (AUS): Edwards Slate & Stone. Furthermore, 3 banks are identified: Allied Irish Banks, HSBC Bank, and Royal Bank of Scotland, all linked to the same quarry.