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PBU questions retailer investment on SRI grounds

DENMARK - Pædagogernes Pensionskasse, the pension fund for education practitioners, has called for clarity from Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz on its child labour policy.

The move follows a recent report on Swedish television which suggested clothes sold by H&M contained cotton picked by children in Uzbekistan, some of whom were as young as nine years old.

"PBU has learned through the media that suppliers to Hennes & Mauritz are connected with the use of child labour," the fund said in a statement. It had therefore sent a letter to the retailing company, asking for a statement on its policy on this matter, it said.

In the letter, the pension outlined its weight within the investment community, explaining that it had 100,000 education practitioners as members and capital of around $6bn. Among its investments were holdings in Hennes & Mauritz B-Fria shares, PBU said.

The reported link to the use of child labour by H&M suppliers was in conflict with the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact, to which PBU had committed itself, the fund explained.

The UN Global Compact is a framework for businesses pledging to align operations with principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.

"Against this background, we ask you please to set out your business policy in this area, along with the action your business will take regarding the accusations about the use of child labour that are going around," the fund wrote.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Julie Henderson on + 44 (0)20 7261 4602 or email julie.henderson@ipe.com

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