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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 Primark’s suppliers were employing the refugee children as slave labour to complete embroidery work.
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 BBC’s 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 company’s 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 principles."
Primark, which is worth an estimated £5 billion, sources around £700m of clothing from India each year.

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