M&S rejects child labour allegations


LEADING British retailer Marks & Spencer plc yesterday strenuously rejected allegations that a Moroccan factory producing clothes for its shops employed child labour.

"Marks & Spencer considers the use of child labour abhorrent. We do not employ child labour and operate a strict policy with regard to the production of ... merchandise worldwide," the high street chain said in a statement.

The claims are due to be made today in a documentary by Granada Television's World in Action programme, which said yesterday the programme would go ahead.

A Marks & Spencer director said it might take legal action if the accusations were aired.

"I think we have to wait and see the programme and see what they say. But we will follow everything up and then we will consider our position after the programme," Mr David Sieff, great-grandson of the chain's founder, said.

Mr Sieff said a senior Marks & Spencer executive visited the Sicome factory in Menkes unannounced last month and found that none of the allegations put to it by World in Action were true.

"This particular factory employs 1,000 employees. All except 30 are 16 or over and those 30 that are under are 15-year-olds and they are apprentices and do" not work on any of the machinery which, as you know, may be more dangerous," he said.

He said the Moroccan ministry of labour and the country's health and safety authority had issued a certificate saying the factory met all legal requirements.

Marks & Spencer last month withdrew from its shelves all stocks of ladies' pyjamas made at the Sicome plant after it discovered some of the garments were incorrectly labelled.