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Page last updated at 09:13 GMT, Friday, 1 June 2012 10:13 UK

The price of cheap clothes?

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Samathi and her family
Samathi (second from right) says that even after working extensive overtime she earned less than 1.50 a day in a textile factory

A report by Anti-Slavery International claims that Indian textile firms, which supply some of Britain's biggest high street retailers, are operating near slave labour conditions.

It says that nine well-known stores, including Tesco, Mothercare and Marks and Spencer have bought garments from one such manufacturer.

The organisation informed nine big retailers at the end of 2010 that some young women in their supply chains are working excessive hours, sometimes for less than £1.50 a day.

It says many weren't allowed to return home to their families for weeks at a time.

The three British retailers insist that their own investigations have found these claims against one particular Indian supplier to be entirely unfounded.

But according to Anti-Slavery International and the Dutch campaign group SOMO, who between them have interviewed more than 200 current or former Indian textile workers, widespread exploitation is common across India's textile industry.

In the light of these opposing claims, correspondent Mike Thomson has travelled to Tamil Nadu in Southern India to investigate.

Since Mike's report was compiled Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Mothercare have all agreed to work with several other big retailers, NGOs and the Ethical Trading Initiative to back efforts to persuade the Indian government to reform the country's apprenticeship system.

The aim is to reduce the length of time textile workers can be employed as lower paid "apprentices" from three years to six months.

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