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Indians exploited? UK chains order probe

September 03, 2007 18:10 IST
UK's major high street clothing retailers Primark and Mothercare have launched a probe following media reports of alleged exploitation of Indian workers who make clothes for them.

Earlier, a British newspaper reported that the Indian workers employed in both the retail chains were getting as little as 13 pence (26 cents) per hour for a 48-hour week, wages so low the workers claim they sometimes have to rely on government food parcels.

Primark, the UK's second biggest clothing retailer, and the Mothercare, the mother and baby shop, launched a probe last night following an investigation by Guardian into the condition of workers in Bangalore who supply several high-profile UK and US fashion brands.

India's largest ready-made clothing exporter, Gokaldas Export, which supplies brands including Marks & Spencer, Mothercare and H&M, confirmed that wages paid to garment workers were as low as 1.13 pounds for a nine-hour day, the report said.

This fails to meet the basic needs of the workers and so falls below the minimum international labour standards promised by the Ethical Trading Initiative, a code of conduct which sets out basic rights for employees across the supply chain, it said.

The ETI code states that workers shall not regularly be required to work more than 48 hours per week, that overtime should be voluntary and that it should not exceed 12 hours per week.
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