Fashion retailer doesn't use sweatshops
Fashion retailer Monsoon has rebutted claims from campaigners that it does not give its Indian garment manufacturers a 'fair deal'. The claim from campaign group Labour Behind the Label came as Monsoon unveiled its Fairtrade Cotton range of clothing, which it says it will source from 'small producer groups' in India.

LBL claimed today that, although using Fairtrade cotton ensured a good price for cotton growers, it did nothing to ensure that the same was true for clothing manufacturers and their staff.

LBL campaign co-ordinator Martin Hearson said: 'The whole production industry is riddled with sweatshops. Retailers [using Fairtrade cotton] are addressing one bit of the problem but not the rest. Workers are being exploited in a whole range of ways - this is the norm rather than the exception.'

Speaking about retailers in general, Hearson added: 'If companies are serious [about helping] they need to do much more than just tinker with their supply chain.'

However, when pressed, Hearson was unable to cite any specific instances where Monsoon or other British retailers using Fairtrade cotton, such as Marks & Spencer were using sweatshops or exploiting workers.

Monsoon head of corporate responsibility Olivia Lankester said: 'We have met with LBL and their concerns with respect to us are unfounded. We have a long-standing commitment to ensure that minimum standards are adhered to across our supply chain. We work with our suppliers to ensure that they meet our requirements.

There is always room for improvement, but we are making progress. We would absolutely refute any suggestion that we are using sweatshops,' she added.

Monsoon said it was a founder of the Ethical Trading Initiative and in 1994 set up the Monsoon Accessorize Trust - a charity to help disadvantaged groups in India.