Young Girls Sewing for Tesco

December, 06 2006 Share

Shirina Akther Sews Clothing for Tesco
At the Harvest Rich Factory

"I am 12 years old".12-13"

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"I am 12 years old".12-13," Shirina tells us.

Shirina's school certificate gives her date of birth as January 5, 1994, making her 12 years old.


Shirina's School Certificate
Note her date of birth: January 5, 1994



Shirina's school certificate



Education!             Peace!!             Progress!!!
Janata High School

Post Office: Brahman Khali, Upa-Zilla: Rupganj
District: Narayanganj
Established: 1974

Reference number: 56/06     Date: September, 05, 2006
This is to certify that Shirina Akther, daughter of Ataur Rahman, village: Chon para, Post Office: Purba Gram, Police Station: Rupganj, District: Narayahnganj, was a student of this school. She was a student of 6th grade in 2005 and successfully completed the annual examination. Her role number was 35 and she was in section A. Her date of birth is January 05 1994 according to documents provided to the school management.

She bears a moral character. As far as I know she did not take part in any indiscipline or subversive activities during she was in the school.

I wish her every success in life.


Date: September 05, 2006


Moreover, both Shirina's parents testified that their daughter was 12 or 13 years old.  Asked how old she is, Shirina's father responds, "She is 12 years".13, like 13 years old." Shirina's mother, asked the same question says, "Around 12-13 years old."


"My name is Shirina" I am 12, 13 years old." She says she works "At Harvest Rich, 1st floor on the Tesco line." Shirina is a helper.  "I cut the threads"".from Tesco pants.

Hundreds of child workers:

Asked how many children were working in her department, Shirina responds "about 100 child workers." In the whole factory, Shirina thought there were "three to 400 child workers."

Routine beatings:

Shirina says:  "The supervisors treat us harshly, they beat, they shout at us.  I feel very bad."  It is "the line chief and supervisors" who beat them, "Sumon and Bellal, supervisors, and Babul, line chief." The children are beaten, "if we make mistakes."

Crying, the mother says, "Every mother can feel when her daughter gets beaten in the factory.  I can't say how bad my feelings are.  My heart is broken."

Shirina completed the 4th grade, but had to leave school for work due to her family's extreme poverty.  "We could not continue her education because of money—we feel very bad," Shirina's father explains.  Her mother said the same:  "I feel pain—due to poverty, we could not get her education."  Shirina says:  "I would be very happy if I could return to school."

--Excerpted from filmed interview conducted September 1, 2006
At the office of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity


Twelve-year-old Rohima

"My name is Rohima.  I am 12 years old.  I work on the first floor, line number 6"at Harvest Rich on the Tesco line."

Rohima works as a helper, where she cleans the garments, cutting off any loose threads from the Tesco pants and shirts when they come off the assembly line.  "I cut the threads with scissors," she says.  Rohima has worked at the Harvest Rich plant "for a year."  (The line was working on Tesco's "F&F" label.)


F&F label



Rohima's mother and father both confirm that she is 12 years old.  The father says:  "I put my hands on her head and I am telling you that she is my daughter and she is 12 years old."

Earning just six cents an hour:

Rohima earns just 930 taka a month, which is $13.30.

 Rohima Earns Just 6 Cents an Hour

6 cents an hour
51 cents a day
$3.07 a week
$13.30 a month
$159.54 a year

(Note: The current exchange rate is 69.95 taka to $1.00 U.S.)

Rohima is beaten:

Rohima explains:  "If we make mistakes, they treat us harshly, they beat us and slap us.  If our work is rejected, they push us and throw us out of the factory."

Rohima says she has been beaten "ten to twelve times" by her supervisors, Sumon and Billal, and by the line chief, Babul.

Upon hearing of the beatings, Rohima's parents responded:  "We feel very bad.  She never told this to us."

Rohma estimates that there were "100 workers like me" on the Tesco floor, meaning 100 child workers.

Instructed to lie about her age:

Rohima explains that "when we enter the factory, our age is increased" The supervisors tell us about our age.  They say I am"17-17 years old."

Asked what happens when buyers arrive, Rohima responds:  "The management people know beforehand.  They send us back home" Supervisors say, 'Go home.  Buyers will come.' "No, they don't pay us [for the day] although we attended the factory."

Routinely cheated on overtime pay:

"Sometimes the factory closes at 5:00 p.m., sometimes at 8:00 p.m. and sometimes at 10:00 p.m."  However, Rohima explains that when they work from "8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m".that includes three hours [overtime] if we work until 8:00 p.m.  But they only record two hours.  They do not pay us for that one hour."

Rohima's father says that "if she protested it—[being cheated of overtime pay]—she would have immediately been fired.

--Excerpted from filmed interview conducted September 1, 2006
At the office of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity