London, June 23 : British discount clothing store Primark has sacked three Indian clothing supply firms after the BBC's Panorama programme found refugee children slaving away in factories for as little as 60 pence a day making sequinned vests.
Last October, kids as young as 10 were found making clothes for Gap Kids in Delhi. And in 2006, children of eight were found working in Delhi sweatshops, attaching Swarovski sequins and beads to clothing destined for the UK and the US.
An estimated 158 million children aged from five to 14 work in hazardous situations around the world.
Human rights groups have condemned the use of child labour.
Action Aid spokesman Claire Melamed says: "It's horrific that big British companies can specify the exact width of a hem or position of a pocket yet claim they can't find out about or stop child labour in their factories. If they really wanted to stop this, they would do it.
But Primark's reaction - ditching their suppliers - is not the answer, according to Sumi Dhanarajan, an Oxfam senior policy advisor.
"This is a moral issue. The responsible thing would be to work with the company to look at how they can move children back into education - striking a deal with suppliers where children work for a shorter time so they can go to school."
But the root of the problem is our "fast fashion" culture.
She said retailers need to change their attitudes but so do consumers. Professor Sheotaj Singh, co-founder of a centre and school for rescued child workers in Delhi, believes that as long as cut-price embroidered goods are sold here, unscrupulous retailers will use child labour.
"India has some of the world's cheapest labour. This is the saddest thing that arises from Delhi's 15,000 garment factories - some are among the worst sweatshops ever to taint human conscience."