Archive for June 23rd, 2008

  • campaigners were scheduled to demonstrate outside Primark’s flagship London branch of the cut-price fashion chain yesterday
  • Families in camps take subcontract orders to sew or add value to garments to earn an income.
  • Not of widespread concern among the TN Lankan refugee camps

Tamil Nadu labour department officials yesterday began investigations into allegations of child labour plaguing the Bhavanisagar refugee camp, Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR) said.

The child labour allegations involving mostly Sri Lankan children were exposed after a six-month investigation carried out by journalists of BBC’s Panorama programme which was scheduled to go on air yesterday.

Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner P.M. Hamza said this was an isolated incident.Officials have checked with the Tamil Nadu authorities and this case appears to be an isolated incident. It is not of widespread concern among the Tamil Nadu refugee camps that house Sri Lankans Mr. Hamza said. However, Tamil Nadu authorities are on alert and are conducting a probe to determine the extent of the problem in the refugee camp concerned.

OfERR Treasurer Chandrahasan stressed that there were no cases where children had been removed from their families and sent to work in factories.

What usually happens is that families in camps take subcontract orders to sew or add value to garments to earn an income. The children also help out during their free time after school.

There might have been some isolated instances which we may have missed, he said.

Meanwhile campaigners were scheduled to demonstrate outside Primark’s flagship London branch of the cut-price fashion chain yesterday, accusing it of behaving irresponsibly to allegations of child labour in its overseas manufacturing operations.

Last week the company axed three of its south Indian suppliers for subcontracting embroidery work to groups using child labour, after the BBC documentary unearthed the problem.

War on Want, the charity behind the protest, said such precipitous action is just a public relations stunt, and left potentially hundreds of garment workers in an even worse position than before.

“The problem is not over for the people who are going to be in jeopardy now because of these cancelled contracts,” Simon McRae, a senior campaigner at War on Want, said. “It may be over for Primark’s PR, but it won’t be for those whose livelihoods are under threat.”

Although the company said it would continue to buy from authorised suppliers in the same region and the overall value of its orders would not change.

War on Want claimed that the only responsible reaction to allegations of exploitative labour practices was to engage with the companies involved.

“Primark’s response undermines its commitment to the ethical treatment of workers “ they are not interested in interacting with the suppliers, they just wanted to get it off the front page,” Mr McRae said. “The company should be finding out what is going on and working with the suppliers to improve the situation. We are not saying that the company is not trying at all, but it has a long way to go, and if this is the way it responds the first time it comes across something going wrong; it doesn’t set a good precedent.”

Primark’s problems in Tamil Nadu arose because its local suppliers had outsourced parts of the job to un-vetted subcontractors. The practice is in direct contravention to the fashion chain’s ethical sourcing code, hence the swift response.



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The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fiercely attacked the Sri Lankan security forces (SF) when they tried to advance into Palamoddai area in Vavuniyaa on Sunday

At least 18 SF troopers were killed, over 31 SF troopers were injured and LTTE thwarted the attacks by the SF and SF retreated to their original position and many warlike items were captured by the LTTE along with three dead bodies of Sri Lankan SF including Three T-56 assault rifles with kit-bags, holsters and ammunition, according to the sources in Vanni.

Meanwhile, an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) who was residing in Mallaavi was killed in a Sri Lanka Security Forces (SF) operated Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) Claymore attack Sunday around 9:30 a.m. at Paalaippaani near Mallaavi, Tamileelam Police officials said.  The victim was identified as P. Sriharan. He was displaced from Pallai.

Heavy fighting between the LTTE and the SF raged within past few months using Multi-Barrel Rockets, artillery and mortar fire mounted attacks on the LTTE position the Manaar, Weli Oya, Vavuniya, Muhamalai and Killali area and tried to advance into the LTTE held area. The LTTE had thwarted all the attempts of the SF into the LTTE held area attacks and the LTTE continued to offer stiff resistance killing hundreds of SF troopers.

The civil war in Sri Lanka killed at least 215,000 people according to the surveys done by the UN World Health Organisation and data released by them recently. Up to now most reports quoted saying 70,000 people have died so far in the Sri Lankan conflict most of them were ethnic Tamils while half a million people internally displaced and over million people externally displaced. At least 5,800 people have been killed in last two years alone, a right group said.

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