Seven-year-old forced to work for pennies for Poundland

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11 July 2010

A Sunday Times investigation exposed how a seven-year-old boy from Bihar, India was made to work 98 hours a week at a factory in a Delhi slum making Christmas decorations for the British discount high street store, Poundland.

The investigation found seven-year-old Ravi and other children at the factory in conditions of forced child labour, working 14 hours a day making napkin rings for only 7p an hour.

Child labour is illegal in India and 50,000 children are estimated to be working illegally in Delhi alone.

The factory was one of 60 local factories that supplied goods for Trishulin Overseas, India’s biggest supplier of shellac-based goods to Poundland. Shellac is a natural resin used to make bangles and other accessories.

Poundland confirmed that it had placed orders with Trishulin Overseas but said these had been “placed on hold” while it investigated the newspaper’s findings.

Bhuwan Ribhu, an activist with the child’s rights organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), said: “At first the children say they earn around 2,000 rupees (£28) a month but when they are rescued and we ask them how much they got in hand the answer is always between 50 and 100 rupees a week.”