18 June 2008 | Jake Kanter
High street retailer Primark has axed three of its clothing suppliers in India for sub-contracting work to companies that use child labour.
Primark discovered the factories had outsourced embroidery and sequin work to unapproved vendors, some of which employed children. It was alerted to the problem following a six-month investigation by the BBC's Panorama, which will be aired next Monday (23 June).
The clothing firm, which is owned by Associated British Foods (ABF), has cancelled all new orders with the suppliers. It said it "expressly bans" the use of child labour and suppliers are not permitted to sub-contract work without consent.
"Primark takes this lapse in standards in its embroidery supply chain very seriously indeed. In addition to sacking the factories at fault, Primark has taken urgent steps to further tighten control of suppliers."
But campaign group Labour Behind the Label said "cutting and running" from a vendor was not the action of an ethical company. "Blaming your suppliers is just passing the buck and refusing to take responsibility." It urged Primark to reverse its decision and work with the factories to improve conditions for workers.