Sandstone quarry workers in India will get yet more assistance from the UK’s leading hard landscaping manufacturer, after Marshalls Plc pledged to increase its support for the voluntary organisation, Hadoti Hast Shilp Sansthan, by 50% for 2008.
Since February 2007, Marshalls Plc has been funding Hadoti to help provide social insurance and health check camps for itinerant quarry workers in the Rajasthan region of India, from which much natural sandstone is exported for the booming British market. Hadoti aims to transform the lives of desperately poor migrant quarry workers in this region – and now with extra funding from Marshalls, it can do even more to improve the future of people who are often denied the most basic of workers’ rights.
In October, Marshalls has committed to a 50% increase in funding in 2008 to help provide better and wider healthcare provision for impoverished workers, to identify more workers who would benefit from social insurance (in case of illness or injury) and to fund educational classes for the children of the quarry workers, for whom even basic schooling is just not available.
While many migrant workers toil away in penurious conditions within the mining areas of Rajasthan, Marshalls has been working tirelessly for the last three years to ensure that its sole supplier, Stoneshippers India, confirms to the principles of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which state that child labour should not be used, no-one should be forced to work, and working conditions should be safe and healthy.
Having been through two years of ongoing independent audits and improvements to ensure that Stoneshippers India is a beacon of best practice in the region and that all its workers are provided with decent working conditions, fair wages and the benefits of healthcare and social insurance, Marshalls has now turned its attention to helping ease the plight of less fortunate workers elsewhere in the many nearby illegal quarries.
As the first UK hard landscaping firm to become a member of the ETI, and having spent so much time auditing its own suppliers and assessing the social and ethical issues surrounding imported natural stone through regular visits to India, Marshalls is all too aware that labour exploitation is likely to be happening just down the road at another site. It is determined that these violations of human rights should not be ignored by the hard landscaping industry – and has campaigned to raise awareness of the truth about Indian Sandstone.
The fact is that child labour is still rife in the quarries of Rajasthan, with children as young as six working long hours and women carrying out heavy labour, in conditions condemned by ethical trade organisations. As part of Marshalls’ commitment to corporate responsibility, it is helping to improve awareness of the need for change in these quarries.
During 2007, with Marshalls’ funding, Hadoti has been able to start identifying workers with tuberculosis and link them to the directly observed treatment (DOT) programme for tuberculosis, which is provided free by the Government of India. The health camps set up in the mining villages have provided immunisation for children and pregnant women and free medicines were distributed for prevalent diseases.
Hadoti’s work extends to providing financial security to the migrant labourers and their families, many of whom are disabled or killed working toiling in quarries that do not provide any kind of safety equipment. Since February, 550 workers have been included on the social insurance scheme and mine owners are now becoming aware of the benefits of these programmes.
Now with increased funding from Marshalls for the next three years, Hadoti can look forward to helping even more workers and to supporting social progress in Rajasthan.