Executive Briefings

Investigation Finds Syrian Children Working in British Stores' Supply Chains

Syrian child refugees have been found working in Turkish factories supplying British clothing chains, according to an investigation by BBC programme Panorama. Journalists said they found children in factories that were part of the supply chains of Marks and Spencer (M&S) and online retailer Asos.

The investigation found seven Syrians in one factory that supplies M&S, including one 15-year-old, worked 12 hours a day ironing products before shipping. The Syrians were employed and paid through a middleman and earned as little as £1 ($1.22) an hour, the journalists reported, and one of the seven told Panorama he was poorly treated.

Panorama also reported finding Asos samples in another factory employing Syrian children. The BBC said Asos has since admitted to finding three Syrian children and 11 Syrian adults working in an "unapproved factory" during an inspection.

M&S told the BBC that the investigation’s findings were "extremely serious" and "unacceptable" and has offered permanent legal employment to any Syrians employed in the factory. "Ethical trading is fundamental to M&S. We do not tolerate breaches of these principles and we will do all we can to ensure that this does not happen again," it told Panorama.

M&S is one of only 27 FTSE100 firms to have published its modern slavery statement, and was ranked as one of the best for its risk assessment and due diligence.

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The investigation found seven Syrians in one factory that supplies M&S, including one 15-year-old, worked 12 hours a day ironing products before shipping. The Syrians were employed and paid through a middleman and earned as little as £1 ($1.22) an hour, the journalists reported, and one of the seven told Panorama he was poorly treated.

Panorama also reported finding Asos samples in another factory employing Syrian children. The BBC said Asos has since admitted to finding three Syrian children and 11 Syrian adults working in an "unapproved factory" during an inspection.

M&S told the BBC that the investigation’s findings were "extremely serious" and "unacceptable" and has offered permanent legal employment to any Syrians employed in the factory. "Ethical trading is fundamental to M&S. We do not tolerate breaches of these principles and we will do all we can to ensure that this does not happen again," it told Panorama.

M&S is one of only 27 FTSE100 firms to have published its modern slavery statement, and was ranked as one of the best for its risk assessment and due diligence.

Read Full Article