US federal agencies have been banned from purchasing garments from Vietnam after the US Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs said it believes clothing is being produced using forced or indentured child labour.
The Bureau of International Labor Affairs said based on the evidence it reviewed there are more than isolated cases of forced child labour in garment production. It noted these cases predominantly occur in small unregistered workplaces.
"In many countries, laws, policies and programs that are effective for registered factories are less effective at reaching children and other exploited workers in unregistered, more hidden work settings, and this appears to be the case in Vietnam's garment industry," the ruling said.
It added that in January this year, two Department of Labor officials visited the country to assess the current situation of forced child labour in Vietnam, with a focus on the garment sector, to gather additional information about the efforts and systems in place to combat this problem. Following meetings, the officials confirmed that most, but not all, child labour in the garment sector occurs in small, unregistered workshops.
"The visit confirmed that systematic monitoring of forced or indentured child labour in the garment sector is limited and largely confined to the larger, registered factories. There is no evidence of systematic monitoring of child labour in smaller, unregistered workshops," the ruling said.