Bangladesh to probe Tesco child labour allegations

DHAKA, Oct 11, 2006 (AFP) – Bangladeshi textile manufacturers pledged Wednesday to investigate child labour allegations after a British television network showed children making clothes for supermarket giant Tesco. Channel 4 News had secretly filmed children as young as 12 it said were working at four factories that supply the British supermarket giant.

S.M. Fazlul Hoque, president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), annnounced an immediate investigation but said child labour had been phased out in recent years due to pressure from Western buyers.

“The companies named are our members and they know how sensitive the child labour issue is in the West. Employing child labour exposes you to all sorts of punitive action from the buyers,” he said.

“We believe this will turn out to be baseless, but it’s a serious allegation and we will send inspection teams to the factories today to find out the truth. But we suspect that this footage may be old,” he said.

For the past three years the trade group has employed its own inspection teams to conduct unannounced visits to members’ factories.

Any employer found to be employing workers under the age of 18 faces an on-the-s