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Swiss NGO guarantees fair deal for carpet makers

The Bern-based STEP foundation carries out controls in Asian countries to check working conditions of carpet weavers Keystone

A Swiss non-governmental organisation, the Step Foundation, says its scheme to win a fair deal for carpet producers is yielding impressive results. A quarter of all carpets sold in Switzerland today come from makers who are ensured a decent wage for their work.

This content was published on April 6, 2001 - 16:40

Step says there are now 32 companies in Switzerland which adhere to its code of conduct. Their sales account for 25 per cent of the Swiss market, and they sell a total of 90,000 square meters of oriental carpets a year.

Step's efforts to improve the living and working conditions of carpet makers involve random checks among producers in Nepal, India and Pakistan. The Bern-based Foundation also runs several programmes to better conditions for carpet weavers, and to prevent child labour.

Last year, Step spent SFr310,000 ($183,000) on programmes abroad, or 40 per cent of its budget. Initiatives included ensuring better medical care and schooling, as well as setting up wastewater treatment facilities.

This year will be a test for Step, as its state subsidies come to an end. The organisation will have to secure its own financing, and will have to reinforce its position on international markets.

Step, which was founded five years ago, is present in Switzerland, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Morocco. It is currently trying to establish its label in Austria and the United States.

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