Children in Myanmar working for $0.16 an hour

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The focus is again on Myanmar, where a new report shows children from 14 to 18 years working for $0.16 per hour, the half of the minimum wage, and almost four times slower than a living wage, as Gethin Chamberlain writes:

New Look, Sports Direct’s Lonsdale brand and H&M have all used factories found to have employed children, after several major brands switched their production to low-cost factories in Myanmar. Workers told investigators that they were paid as little as 13p an hour producing clothes for UK retailers – half the full legal minimum wage. The Netherlands-based Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (known by its Dutch initials as Somo) interviewed 400 workers in 12 factories supplying international brands and worked with the Observer to finalise the report.

“We thought that brands were getting the message on child labour but this investigation shows the risks involved in constantly trying to cut labour costs,” said researcher Pauline Overeem. “The widespread use of children in Myanmar to manufacture clothes for western brands is alarming and depressing and we urge all companies to take responsibility and to ensure that children are getting the education they need and deserve.” Brands have had some success eliminating child labour from their main supplier factories in recent years, but as wages have risen in countries such as China, companies are increasingly moving production to cheaper markets, including Myanmar, where children can legally be employed for up to four hours a day from the age of 14.

Several brands where related to this practices, such as H&M, Lonsdale, New Look, Muji, Sports Direct, Pierre Cardin or Henri Lloyd.

All the factories investigated employed workers below the age of 18. Several workers at factories supplying Lonsdale and New Look stated in detailed interviews that they had started work at the age of 14. There were also reports of several workers below the age of 15 at a factory supplying H&M and Muji. H&M confirmed that it had found two 14-year-olds but that an inspection in November found no one under 14. Researchers found wages below the full legal minimum at factories supplying Sports Direct, Henri Lloyd, New Look, H&M, Muji, Pierre Cardin and Karrimor (owned by Sports Direct). The lowest wages of just 13p an hour were found in factories supplying H&M, Karrimor, Muji and Pierre Cardin. The day rate for those workers was £1.06. Myanmar’s labour laws permit factories to pay newer workers at reduced rates

See the original news here.