BA assured prison labour not used to manufacture headphones

28 June 2013

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28 June 2013 | Adam Leach

British Airways has rejected reports that Chinese prisoners were used to manufacture its in-flight headphones.

Earlier this week, a report by the Australian Financial Review newspaper alleged that poorly treated inmates in a Chinese prison were forced to work long hours to manufacture headphones supplied to British Airways, Qantas and Electrolux. Both BA and Electrolux responded by saying they have not found any evidence to suggest prison labour has been used in their supply chains.

The allegations against all three do not relate to the companies own suppliers but work that had apparently been sub-contracted out.

A statement from British Airways, said: “Our supplier has made it abundantly clear it has never used prisons in China to produce any British Airways headphones. All of our suppliers are subject to a rigorous procurement process prior to appointment and we enforce compliance to a robust Labour Standards Policy throughout the duration of the contract.”

Swedish electronics company Electrolux investigated the allegations and found that the vendor allegedly using prison labour was supplying one of its prime contractors. A spokesman for the company told SM it had investigated the company in question and has so far found no evidence to support the claims.

In a statement, Qantas said it "immediately suspended" its current sourcing arrangements" to investigate the allegations. It explained that it had received written assurances from its supplier than no third parties in the supply chain used prison labour.

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