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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tesco accused of child labour

TESCO, Britain’s biggest retailer, has been accused of selling clothes made by two contractors in Bangladesh who are alleged to have used illegal child labour. The claims will be made on Channel 4 News tomorrow night. The programme, made after a four-month investigation, focuses on Harvest Rich and Evince, suppliers based in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Both are established suppliers to Tesco and produce clothes under the Florence and Fred brand, one of the supermarket group’s clothing lines. They also supply other Western companies. The programme features footage of children who are allegedly under 15. In one interview, a 12-year-old who claimed to work as a machinist at Harvest Rich, says: “They (the factory) did ask me about my age. I said I was 11 years old. And they took me in.” He also claims that “around 200-300 child workers” are employed by Harvest Rich. In another interview a 12-year-old girl, who claims to work for Harvest Rich said she earns £9 a month.
Tesco said as soon it was alerted to the allegations more than a week ago it carried out “unannounced inspections” of the four sites featured in the report but found “no evidence whatsoever of under-age workers”. It added that all factories authorised to produce Tesco clothing in Bangladesh had been inspected by Tesco and independent specialists in the last year.