Since the end of the 1990s, the natural stone market in Germany and Europe has witnessed fundamental change: ever-increasing quantities of granite and sandstone from Asia, usually India and China, are used in Europe.
The cost of such stone is significantly lower than for those extracted from European quarries - at the expense of workers in developing countries and emerging nations.
Alongside poor working conditions for adults, such stone quarries, particularly in India, also resort to employing children.
Fair natural stones from XertifiX
In response to this social injustice, the association XertifiX e.V. was founded in 2005 and certifies natural stone produced in India without exploitative child and forced labour, and with fair conditions for adult workers.
XertifiX monitors the following control criteria in quarries and production plants:
• no child labour in accordance with the ILO Convention 182 and no forced labour
• wages in accordance with the state-guaranteed minimum salary
• Work safety measures (nose and ear protection, first aid)
• Right of access for XertifiX trade union with headquarters in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, collaborates with cooperative natural stone traders and stonemasons in Europe and India who wish to offer their clients 'fair trade' natural stone.
For this certification, only the European importer pays 3% of the Indian purchase price (FOB – free-on-board value). All proceeds are invested in the Indian control system and rehabilitation measures for former child workers.
A key element in the improvement of life for stone quarry children and their parents is ensuring that the freed children can go to school, whilst also offering their parents educational opportunities to encourage them to fight for their rights and fight against exploitation in the form of debt bondage.
Alongside educating the children and their parents, the marginalisation of these people must also be combatted.
As members of the lowest religious class, the casteless (Dalits), these people belong to the lowest social stratum in a deeply engrained hierarchical system. For such rehabilitation measures, XertifiX works with the Catholic aid organisation MISEREOR and assigns 20% of its income from license fees to the implementation of these initiatives.
For more information, please visit www.xertifix.de