Tesco clothes 'made by child workers in Asia'

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Children as young as 12 are working in factories to make clothes for Tesco, an investigation claimed last night.

Undercover filming showed four factories in Bangladesh in which children were working to supply the supermarket chain, a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) which states child labour must not be used.

Two of the factories that belong to Harvest Rich Ltd, and two to Evince Group, create clothes for Tesco's Florence and Fred range.

At both Harvest Rich Ltd factories, Channel 4 News secretly filmed what appeared to be child workers making men's trousers.

One alleged child worker from a Harvest Rich factory said: "I am 12-years-old. I said I was 11-and-a-half and they took me in. In the whole of Harvest Rich there are 200 to 300 child workers."

At both the Evince Group factories, Channel 4 News again secretly filmed children who appeared to be under 15 working on male Florence and Fred shirts.

The minimum age limit for workers supplying clothes for Tesco is 18.

The report, which followed a four-month investigation, stressed there was no suggestion that Tesco was aware child labour was being used by the suppliers.

Tesco said it completes ongoing audits of all its suppliers and had found no evidence to support the claim.

A spokesman said: "We are very disappointed that Channel 4 has waited three months to bring this matter to our attention. We abhor child labour and feel that Channel 4 had a duty to alert us earlier if these allegations are true.

"As soon as they did bring them to our attention, we immediately carried out unannounced inspections of the sites they say they visited and despite rigorous investigation have found no evidence whatsoever of under-age workers."

Two of the factories, one belonging to Evince and one to Harvest Rich, were producing the supermarket's clothing without Tesco's authorisation and knowledge, the spokesman said. Production of Tesco garments at both factories has now ceased, he said.

When contacted by Channel 4, Harvest Rich denied using child labour and said it had a policy of not hiring anyone under 18.

Evince, who also denied using child labour, said in the report: "We always try to follow the current government rules and regulations. Every worker has their age verified by a physician."