BRITISH CHAIN OF CLOTHES SACKS
SUPPLIERS FOR EMPLOYING CHILD LABOUR FROM SRILANKAN TAMIL REFUGEE CAMPS
By Walter Jayawardhana
Primark , one of the biggest chains of low cost fashion stores in the
United Kingdom had to drop three of its suppliers in India as a BBC
Panorama programme exposed the supplying factories were employing Sri
Lankan Tamil children in South Indian refugee camps.
In the program it was exposed the subcontractors for Primarks
suppliers were employing the refugee children as slave labour to complete
The Guardian newspaper published photos of the working children attaching
sequins to a T-shirt and a model wearing a similar T-shirt.
The retailing chain said as soon as it was alerted about the child labour
fiasco it cancelled all new orders with factories connected with the
practice and withdrew the relevant clothes from is shelves.
The agitation against the practice with few demonstrations in front
of the Primark shops started when reporters for the BBCs Panorama
Television programme exposed the practice.
Panorama report said , after a seven months investigation, that they
found three firms in Tirupur , an industrial area in Tamil Nadu supplying
clothes to the British firm Primark.
The Panorama said , children as young as 11 who were in Sri Lankan Tamil
refugee camps were toiling in these factories for a low salary of about
sixty British pennies a day . Acccording to Panorama as many as 20,000
fashionable items were produced by these firms.
According to BBC sources the Primark clothing giant was notified about
the discovery of the reporters during the final process of the editing
of the programme. Immediately after they were alerted the company has
responded. Primark is owned by Associated British Foods. The owning
companys CEO George Weston immediately took the decision to sack
the culprit suppliers.
"We don't want, Weston said, kids working on our clothes.
We are very angry." Another statement from the company said that
they are an ethical company and they expected highest standards from
its suppliers. The statement further said, "It has a strict Supplier
Code of Conduct which expressly bans the use of child labour. In addition
none of our suppliers is permitted to sub-contract without our specific
consent and agreement.
"Primark does not tolerate serious breaches of its fundamental
Primark, which is worth an estimated £5 billion, sources around
£700m of clothing from India each year.
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