Nothing says ‘unbridled greed’ so much as a sweatshop full of Syrian refugees

A young activist shows her stomach with the words 'Fashion Kills' during a demonstration.

A young activist shows her stomach with the words ‘Fashion Kills’ during a demonstration.


The headline quotes our friend Harry Leslie Smith’s response to the announcement that H&M and Next have discovered that Syrian refugee children are working in factories belonging to their clothing suppliers in Turkey.

It seems unscrupulous businesspeople, on the routes taken by refugees from war in the Middle East, are taking the opportunity to exploit the hardship suffered by these people by victimising them further.

This is, of course, utterly vile and the perpetrators should be punished.

The fact that UK firms are implicated is a stain on the nation.

Two of Britain’s high street giants have found Syrian refugee children working in their clothing factories in Turkey, leading to calls for other retailers to investigate their own supply chains.

H&M and Next were the only retailers that admitted to identifying child labour in supplier factories in Turkey, but there are fears that the phenomenon could be far more widespread after several other companies failed to answer questions on the use of Syrian workers in their factories.

Along with China, Cambodia and Bangladesh, Turkey is one of the largest producers of clothing sold on the British high street, supplying labels that include Topshop, Burberry, Marks & Spencer and Asos.

The country is also the world’s largest host of Syrian refugees, accepting more than 2.5 million people who have fled the conflict since 2011.

A report by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), a non-profit organisation that monitors company ethics, warns that few brands are taking adequate steps to ensure that vulnerable refugees are not “fleeing from conflict into exploitative working conditions”.

Source: Syrian refugee children found working in Next and H&M factories | Middle East | News | The Independent

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7 thoughts on “Nothing says ‘unbridled greed’ so much as a sweatshop full of Syrian refugees

  1. Dez

    The fact that only a few responses from retailers will suggest that this is an industry wide issue that results in more profit from hard line procurement of cheaply manufactured clothing, and many other commodities, using abundant and child labour in many countries. The cost of living in some of these countries is well below the western worlds so whilst it may be cheap and have the sweatshop branding maybe for some of these workers it is a wage of some sort. If one bans purchases from sweatshop users the ultimate losers will be the sweatshop labour and there is no guarantee paying more per item will filter down to the shopfloor workers. Unions are not available in these countries to help get a living wage to those that deserve it.

  2. mohandeer

    We already have exploitative work conditions in England itself especially in the veg & fruit picking/packing/ canning markets in the Fens so it is no surprise that families living in desperate conditions are allowing their children and often themselves to be exploited. I doubt that Turkey spends vast amounts in humanitarian relief for all the refugees it has taken in. The refugees are being tolerated only as a threat over the heads of the EU to force the EU and NATO to look the other way in Turkey’s corrupt oil and slave trades and their still ongoing terrorist funding activities. Unless the conflicts that have been funded by fundamentalist extremist countries are stopped, this evil abuse is likely to continue. Even the Labour left does not want to talk about the low paid immigrant problem, in case it gives the EU Brexit leverage in the referendum. It’s all politics, ever has been.

  3. casalealex

    This is nothing new….

    theguardian 2/9/14

    Thousands of young refugees are missing out on school to support families left destitute after fleeing the fighting in Syria

    As refugees from Syria do not receive work permits in Turkey, underage Syrian workers are not being recorded at all.

    “It makes them extremely vulnerable to abuse,” warned Acar. “Syrian women and children are probably amongst the most vulnerable groups in Turkey right now.”

    In Kilis, a town where there are now more

Comments are closed.