Retailers C&A, H&M accused of using Chinese prisoners to make clothes

C&A
. Róger Randerson Alves Raimund / Wikimedia Commons

Prisoners in China are used to make clothes for famous clothing brands like C&A and H&M, British former journalist and business researcher Peter Humphrey wrote in the Financial Times over the weekend. C&A launched an investigation to find out whether this is true, the company said to NOS.

Humphrey spent two years in a prison in Shanghai after he was convicted for illegally collecting private data of Chinese citizens while investigating a smear campaign against pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. There he found prisoners working for large companies. Inmates made packaging and textile products for, among others, C&A, H&M and American company 3M. According to Humphrey, prisoners who worked full time were paid only about 15 euros per month. They also earned points with which they could reduce their sentences. 

The British researcher added that it is very possible that the companies don't know that prisoners are forced to work for them. 

C&A told NOS that the company is taking these allegations "very seriously" and that the company knows nothing about Chinese prisoners working in its clothing production chain. "We do not tolerate forced labor in our production chain. That also applies to labor in prisons. If we discover forced labor somewhere, the contract with the supplier is terminated immediately." C&A says it checks the factories of its 273 Chinese suppliers at least annually and has employees dedicated to combating the use of illegal subcontractors. 

H&M and 3M have not yet responded to these allegations, according to NOS. 

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