Syrian refugee children have been found working in factories in Turkey, making clothes for British high street retailer, Marks & Spencer and e-commerce giant, ASOS. According to an investigation led by BBC, Syrian refugees as young as age 15 have been working long hours for little pay, making and ironing clothes to be shipped off to Britain. Others, of legal age, were found working 12-hour days in a factory distressing jeans for factories supplying Spanish fast fashion giants Mango and Zara, using chemicals with inadequate protection.
An M&S spokesperson responded to the BBC's findings, which are set to air as part of its Panorama program on Monday evening, saying: "We had previously found no evidence of Syrian workers employed in factories that supply us, so we were very disappointed by these findings, which are extremely serious and are unacceptable to M&S." The individual further held that M&S is working with the Turkish supplier to offer permanent legal employment to any Syrian daily workers employed in the factory.
"Mango has zero tolerance towards the practices described in the 'Panorama' program," a Mango spokeswoman said in connection with the report. The company said it had instructed an urgent and unannounced audit of the concerned facilities after the BBC's notification. "Under no circumstances was the use of child labor of Syrian workers detected," she said.
An ASOS spokeswoman declined to comment on the allegations in detail, saying: "It’s a subject we take incredibly seriously. But it would be wrong for us to comment on reporting we haven’t seen." Individuals from Zara has declined to comment on the matter.
Roughly three million Syrian refugees are currently living in Turkey, which has been a main entry point for refugees from the ongoing conflict in Syria.