The U.K.-based grocery chain Tesco said it halted production at a factory in China on Sunday after a British newspaper reported the factory used forced labour to produce charity Christmas cards for the supermarket.
Tesco said it also launched an investigation of the Chinese supplier it hired to make the holiday cards, Zheijiang Yunguang Printing, after the Sunday Times raised questions about the factory’s labour practices.
The newspaper said the potentially problematic province of the cards came to light when a 6-year-old girl in south London found a card in her box already had a message written inside.
It read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qinqpu prison China forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization.”
The writer asked whoever received the note to contact Peter Humphrey, a former British journalist who was detained in China while working as a corporate investigator and spent time at the same Shanghai prison.
The London girl’s father, Ben Widdicombe, said Sunday they at first thought the message was a “prank.”
“On reflection, we realized it was actually potentially quite a serious thing,” Widdicombe said. “So I felt very shocked, but also a responsibility to pass it on to Peter Humphrey as the author asked me to do.”
He said the message was eye opening: “It hits home there are injustices in the world and difficult situations that we know about and read about each and every day.”
Widdicombe said finding the message shortly before Christmas was poignant and that he told his daughter, Florence, what it might mean.
Toronto rally calls on feds to address human rights violations in China
“We explained that the person who wrote it was a prisoner in China and that the person felt the prison guards were being mean, making them do work, they felt really sad,” the father said.
Humphrey told the BBC he thinks he knows who wrote the message. He said he won’t identify the person for fear the inmate would face retribution.
Humphrey said he was “pretty sure” it was put inside the card by a group of prisoners as a collective request for help.
Tesco said it was “shocked” by the discovery and would never allow prison labour in its supply chain.
The company says it donates 300,000 pounds ($390,000) annually to the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK from the sale of its Christmas cards.
© 2019 The Canadian Press
Canadian retail sales slow after surpassing pandemic losses – BNN
Gains for Canadian retailers slowed sharply in July and August, suggesting pent-up demand from prior months has been largely extinguished.
Sales grew 0.6 per cent in July, versus 23 per cent in June and 21 per cent in May, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. Excluding vehicles, receipts unexpectedly dropped 0.4 per cent, versus a forecast gain of 0.5 per cent. Preliminary estimates from the agency show receipts climbed 1.1 per cent in August, suggesting the weaker trend will continue.
The report reinforces warnings that the pace of the recovery will slow in the second half of the year, after a strong V-shaped rebound through the early summer.
“All in all, the numbers imply that retail activity is normalizing after the whipsaw of a huge downturn and recovery,” said Scotiabank economist Brett House in a note.
Core retail sales, or those excluding vehicles and gasoline, dropped 1.2 per cent.
Still, the rebound has been impressive. In July, retail sales were up 2.7 per cent compared with year earlier levels.
1 TSX Stock With a 12% DIVIDEND YIELD to Buy Today – The Motley Fool Canada
The year 2020 is continuing to be highly volatile for the Toronto Stock Exchange. In March, the index saw a sharp surge in volatility after the COVID-19 cases started rising in the country. While the market seems to be on a path of a sharp recovery, massive sell-offs every now and then (like the one we saw in the first week of September) continue to haunt investors.
Market volatility is likely to continue
Despite the broader market recovery in recent months, the ongoing pandemic-related uncertainties are expected to keep stocks highly volatile in the near term. Also, the upcoming U.S. general elections could add to this volatility.
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Canadian airlines cancelling flights again as hoped-for bounceback in demand fizzles – CBC.ca
Rachel Farrell can now claim the unfortunate distinction of having two destination weddings called off in one year.
The 26-year-old event co-ordinator had booked a Transat flight out of Halifax for Feb. 15, 2021, as part of her planned nuptials in the Dominican Republic but was told this week the airline had cancelled the trip and would not make the journey until six days later.
She and her fiancé had first booked their trip package for last April, but it was nixed by Transat after the airline grounded its entire fleet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The problem is increasingly common, with Canadian airlines cancelling hundreds of flights as hopes for a spike in demand fall flat, snarling plans for the few passengers who remain.
“I was upset but understood that it wasn’t Air Transat’s fault, so we would wait until air travel resumed and rebook as soon as we could, since refunds weren’t an option,” Farrell said.
She did that in July, rebooking the flight for February using a travel credit based on the $37,000 she and her nearly two-dozen guests had paid for the package.
“Even though they knowingly chose to cancel my rebooked wedding group, they still won’t give us a refund,” Farrell said, noting the airline is again offering credit.
“My travel agent has told me that even if I rebook next week, they might still push the dates further…. I don’t know what to do now, and all I really want is to get married.”
Air Canada and WestJet have cancelled at least 439 flights so far this month, according to figures from flight data firm Cirium.
The cancellations come after airlines banked on a return of business travel and a continued uptick in leisure trips in the fall, said John Gradek, who heads McGill University’s Global Aviation Leadership program.
“They’ve decided since about the end of July to let loose on scheduled services and increasing the number of routes, at the same time hoping that the government will loosen up some of its restrictions. And that’s not been the case,” he said.
Now, airlines are cancelling the half-booked flights and consolidating passengers on remaining ones to cut costs.
“There has not been a take-up by the Canadian travelling public of those seats that are being offered by the carriers, so they’re cutting back those services significantly … and it’s being done piecemeal rather than being done wholesale,” Gradek said.
The letdown builds on an already devastating year.
Transat revenues fell by 99 per cent year over year in the last quarter, when the travel company operated flights for just one week.
Air Canada saw passenger revenues drop 95 per cent, prompting 20,000 layoffs as the airline burned through $19 million per day. WestJet has laid off about 4,000 employees since March.
Air traffic in August fell by two-thirds compared with a year earlier, according to Nav Canada, which operates air navigation across the country.
Flight consolidation does not always result in upended plans or wedding dilemmas.
“Sometimes airline schedules require minor surgery and sometimes major surgery,” said Mike Malik, head of marketing at Cirium.
The itinerary change can sometimes mean a departure delay of an hour rather than a week.
“We know that most travellers right now are not business travellers,” Malik said. “These are VFR travellers — visiting friends and relatives. So if you’re visiting friends and relatives, you probably don’t need a 7 a.m. flight for a 9 a.m. meeting in Toronto.”
The reassurance comes as cold comfort for Darlene Hatter, who was twice slated to attend her son’s destination wedding in Costa Rica, with both flights from Toronto now cancelled.
Her son, Robert Przybylski, 35, is now out $15,000, as well as the $2,800 each of his 85 guests shelled out, she said.
“It’s very frustrating,” Hatter said.
“The airlines in my opinion are taking advantage big time of this and stomping on the little people just because they can. The government needs to step up and tell these airlines to give people their refunds.”
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