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Marshalls has been a pioneer regarding the ethics of Indian sandstone since 2006 and has today reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to the communities in the quarrying region of Kota, Rajasthan. Working with local specialist non-governmental partner organisation (NGO) Hadoti Hast Shilp Sansthan (Hadoti) in India, Marshalls will continue to support a range of projects which it has been funding for the past four years. These include six schools attended free by 179 children of quarry workers and the wider community; six health centres in the heart of Bhundi allowing access to information and free medicines for workers and their families; and education camps providing information on workers’ rights on such matters as social security and health & safety.
Marshalls employ a full-time field-based social auditor & capacity builder in India whose hands-on-role is to oversee the implementation of the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) base code in the quarries from where product is sourced and to report back on a weekly basis. The auditor undertakes checks on conditions and works with quarry owners to improve and tackle any issues. To Marshalls’ knowledge the appointment of this social auditor is unique in the sector.
Chris Harrop, group marketing director at Marshalls, will travel to Kota next week on one of his numerous trips to Rajasthan each year. He says, “Marshalls has always communicated clearly the reality of the use of child labour in Indian sandstone quarries and the poor conditions endured by many workers. Disappointingly though Marshalls pioneering work has been met with resistance and disbelief by the sector both in the UK and in India but our commitment had never waivered, even during the recessionary climate.”
He continued, “The culmination of efforts across the business and with our partners in India allowed Marshalls to bring Fairstone to the UK market in 2009 to enable consumers with a conscience to buy Indian sandstone which is clearly identified as ethically sourced.”
Marshalls Fairstone is an ethically sourced range of Indian natural sandstone quarried and produced in-line with a clear set of ethical values and commitment that Marshalls strongly believes in. Marshalls clearly and confidently say that Marshalls Fairstone actively guards against child labour of any kind, that workers receive living wages and that health & safety practices are firmly in place and regularly monitored. Ongoing research, engagement with commitment to its Indian partner organisations enabled Marshalls to achieve this landmark position. Harrop firmly states that no other company in this sector has worked as tirelessly as Marshalls, and as a consequence simply can’t make similar claims.
Mrs Joshi, head of Hadoti, comments, “The progress made in the last four years should be acknowledged as brave and forward looking. The benefits are clear to see and the effect of Fairstone within the quarrying community in the region is wholly positive. Indian sandstone is among the best in the world and the fact that it can now be purchased with a clear conscience should bring peace of mind to those consumers in the UK who care enough to use their influence for the benefits of communities across the globe.”
Harrop concluded, “Marshalls remains wholly commitment to the code of conduct laid down by the ETI and our ongoing programme of work in India with our business partner Stoneshippers and Hadoti. Our work in this area was identified by the United Nations Global Compact in June this year at the Leaders Summit in New York as worthy of note.”