PARENTS have been urged to ask retailers whether their school uniforms are free from child labour.
The Irish National Teacher's Organisation (INTO) said parents should not be afraid to ask retailers about the origins of their clothes and that schools should also consider the issue.
"Every child has the right to be in school and to get an education," said Sheila Nunan, general secretary of the INTO.
"If child labour is being used to produce school uniforms, then Irish people who buy such products are effectively denying children in poorer countries an education."
Highlighting the issue in aid of yesterday's World Day Against Child Labour, the union said every year there are concerns about the high cost of uniforms – but questions also need to be asked about cheaper models.
"Retailers should be able to show that children were not exploited," said Ms Nunan.
"All primary schools, when sending out notices in relation to school uniforms, should ensure that their school uniform policy is 'child-labour proofed'."
For schools that don't require uniforms to be bought in particular shops, she urged parents to question retailers.
A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said all of its suppliers "wherever they are in the world, and whatever size they are, must adhere to our strict ethical standards as a condition of working with us".
Aldi said its school uniforms were "ethically sourced from a reputable supplier". It added: "Aldi is committed to respecting the human rights of workers in our supply chains."
A spokesperson for chain store Penneys said: "Unfortunately Penneys have declined to comment on this." Dunnes Stores did not reply to a query from the Irish Independent.
The children's advocacy organisation, Barnardos also urged retailers to be transparent with parents and schools about the origins and production of their school uniforms.