Child labour won't go away without transparency

Next and H&M are brave to admit that they found Syrian child refugees working in supplier factories in Turkey.

Credit: Mustafa Bader/Wikipedia
Credit: Mustafa Bader/Wikipedia

No business wants to be associated with child labour. It’s not, as the marketing department would put it, good for the brand. But as many of our favourite goods are produced in poor countries where child labour is rife, this is a risk that many major businesses face. Just ask Apple.

It might seem odd then that fast fashion big beasts Next and H&M have admitted they found Syrian child refugees working in supplier factories in Turkey. Before you rush off to grab your placard and megaphone, this is not an expose, and nor is it a cause to boycott these stores. Next and H&M – both of which put an end to the child labour when they found it and made efforts to help the children and families involved - were just being honest.  

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) asked 28 firms in January whether they had found Syrian child labour in their Turkish supplier factories, and what they were doing about the problem. Only Next and H&M said yes (see the full report here) - and were praised by the report authors for their efforts to avoid it happening again.

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