A HUDDERSFIELD company supplying stone and clay products says it is helping to look after the welfare of itinerant quarry workers in India.
Birkby-based Marshalls has been funding the voluntary organisation Hadoti Hast Shilp Sansthan since February.
Now it has pledged to increase its funding of several thousand pounds by 50% next year.
Marshalls helps Hadoti to provide social insurance and health check camps for itinerant quarry workers in the Rajasthan region of India.
Much natural sandstone is exported from the region for the booming British construction market and use of child labour as young as six is rife at some quarries.
The extra money from Marshalls will help identify more workers who would benefit from social insurance – in case of illness or injury – and fund educational classes for the children of the quarry workers, for whom even basic schooling is just not available.
A spokesman for Marshalls said the company had worked tirelessly for the last three years to ensure that our its sole supplier, Stoneshippers India, conformed to the principles of the Ethical Trading Initiative.
That initiative says that child labour should not be used, that no-one should be forced to work, and that working conditions should be safe and healthy.
The spokesman said the company had gone through two years of independent audits and improvements to ensure that Stoneshippers India was “a beacon of best practice” in the region and that all its workers were provided with decent working conditions, fair wages and the benefits of healthcare and social insurance.
Marshalls had now turned its attention to helping ease the plight of less fortunate workers elsewhere in the many nearby illegal quarries.
The spokesman said: “Marshalls is all too aware that labour exploitation is likely to be happening just down the road at another site.
“We are determined that these violations of human rights should not be ignored by the industry – and have campaigned to raise awareness of the truth about Indian Sandstone.
“Child labour is still rife in the quarries of Rajasthan, with children as young as six working long hours and women carrying out heavy labour, in conditions condemned by ethical trade organisations.
“As part of our commitment to corporate responsibility, we are helping to improve awareness of the need for change in these quarries.”
During 2007, cash from Marshalls helped Hadoti to start identifying workers with tuberculosis and to link them to TB treatment programmes provided free by the Government of India.
Health camps set up in the mining villages have provided immunisation for children and pregnant women and free medicines for prevalent diseases.
Hadoti’s work extends to providing financial security to the migrant labourers and their families, many of whom are disabled or killed working in quarries that do not provide any kind of safety equipment.