Oz firm cuts ties with Indian contractor over child labour use

Updated: Sep 26, 2012, 17:13 PM IST

Melbourne: An Australian football company that had outsourced some of its work to India has ended its contract with the Indian sub-contractor amid media reports that alleged child labour was being employed in the production in Jalandhar.

According to an official statement by the Football company Sherrin, the step was taken after the reports said that the footballs for the company were being hand-stitched by children as young as 10, for as little as 12 cents a ball, at one of its sub-contractors in Jalandhar, Punjab.

"Sherrin is extremely grateful that this matter has been brought to the company`s attention as it considers the use of child labour in the production of its footballs totally abhorrent," it said, adding that it has taken the allegations seriously and within 24 hours it had ceased all dealings with its subcontractor in India.

The managing director of Sherrin Chris Lambert said, "We have a zero tolerance policy regarding the use of underage workers, and we are appalled that one of our sub-contractors has used child labour in the stitching of our footballs."

"We have an extremely thorough global corporate social responsibility compliance programme including prohibition of the use of underage workers. All manufacturers must be in full compliance with all applicable local laws and standards and they are continuously reviewed by a globally accredited third party auditing company," Lambert said.

"We have an exceptionally rigorous ongoing auditing process for all our contractors and sub-contractors," he added.

"Less than 9,000 footballs were outsourced to this sub-contractor and we believe that the vast majority of these would have stitched in his approved stitching factory facilities," Lambert said.

"Since the details of this came to our attention last Wednesday, Sherrin has acted immediately on various issues including an immediate review of Sherrin`s relationship with both the supplier and the sub-contractor involved, ceasing allowing any stitching to be done by any sub-contractors....." he said.

On Saturday, The Age had reported that Sherrin footballs were being hand-stitched by children as young as 10, for as little as 12 cents a ball. The children, almost all of them girls, were being pulled out of school to stitch balls, for up to 10 hours a day, seven days a week.