Indian garment exporters deny using child labourJune 18th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS
Tirupur, June 18 (IANS) Garment exporters in this Tamil Nadu textile manufacturing hub Wednesday denied that they used any child labour, a day after a large British retail chain cancelled a 300,000 pound (about $586,000) order over the issue. The exporters have also charged local NGOs with “concocting” the child labour story. British retail chain Primark cancelled its order following reports that the British Broadcasting Corporation will telecast a documentary showing the use of child labour in the industry.
Members of the local police force support the exporters’ version.
“We are aware of the cancelled orders as a result of a British documentary made by a few NGOs which wanted to make a fast buck from foreign television channels,” Tirupur Exporters Association president A. Shaktivel said.
According to Shaktivel, the NGOs shot visuals with “a few Sri Lankan refugee children” in Bhavani Sagar, some 20 kilometres from here. “It was passed as child labour in our factories,” he added.
Exports from Tirupur were valued at Rs.105 billion ($2.6 billion) last year.
“The correct position is being explained to Primark,” Shaktivel said. Primark runs 170 retail stores across Britain.
The “guilty” exporters farmed out embroidery work to refugee Tamil families in the locality to help them, he said. “Our investigation show that the children said to be employed in the clothing units all go to school.”
“The NGOs get money for such photographs and sharing such information,” he alleged.
An officer of the local police force also charged certain NGOs with “abusing their foreign contacts to milk major businesses”.
“We are going through the antecedents of a few NGOs and checking their sources of funds,” he said.
The total trade in garments on an all-India basis was worth $49 billion of which 39 percent was exported in 2006-07, according to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).
Tirupur exported textiles worth Rs.100 billion, which exporters believe will go up to Rs.115 billion this year.
The year-on-year growth is around eight percent, with Tirupur and neighbouring Erode accounting for nearly a tenth of the total trade.
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