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UK: John Lewis & Habitat withdraw granite worktops over slavery concerns in India

Author: Kate Hodal & Peter Bengtsen, Guardian (UK), Published on: 6 September 2017

"John Lewis and Habitat withdraw granite worktops over slavery concerns," 3 September 2017

John Lewis and Habitat have pulled a range of granite worktops from sale over concerns their supply chains may be tainted with slavery and child labour. Many other high-street businesses selling granite products such as kitchen worktops, tiles and tombstones are also likely to scrutinise their supply chains after investigators discovered that debt bondage, underage workers and unsafe, unhealthy working conditions are part and parcel of daily working life in Indian quarries. 

India is the largest global producer of granite, accounting for 49% of the world’s raw stone export in 2015... An investigation...recently published by the Dutch organisations India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) and Stop Child Labour, revealed major human rights and labour rights violations... The quarries’ performance was graded on six criteria: child labour, bonded labour, wages and social benefits, health, safety, and freedom of association.

More than 30 natural stone companies from the UK, EU, US, Australia and Canada are named in the report as sourcing products from...22 quarries. None of the quarries has a prevention system for child labour...

Given the complexity of global supply chains, and the scale of abuses outlined in the report, it would be “almost impossible” to ensure that any star galaxy granite is free of labour or human rights irregularities, [ICN’s corporate social responsibility officer said]...

None of the six UK companies named in the report [mistermarble, Grantech, Nile Trading, Blyth Marble, KSG UK and Beltrami] responded to requests for comment on their supply chains. The Observer also contacted a number of businesses around the UK selling granite worktops, tombstones and tiles, none of whom responded to requests for comment... [also refers to Cosentino Group and Nobilia]

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Related companies: Cosentino Group Habitat John Lewis (part of John Lewis Partnership) John Lewis Partnership Nobilia