A YORKSHIRE brickmaker has been honoured for its high ethical standards, as the brick industry fights back against the widespread use of child labour and slavery in South East Asia.

The Easingwold-based York Handmade Brick Company has been awarded the new Brickmakers Quality Charter to underline its moral standards and green credentials.

The award comes from the Brick Development Association, the trade association for the UK’s brick industry.

David Armitage, the chairman of York Handmade, said: “This accolade means a great deal to us. We take huge pride, both in our environmentally-friendly brick-making process and in the way we treat our loyal and hard-working staff.”

He said the Brick Development Association' pioneering Brickmakers Quality Charter scheme provides a Brick Certificate to reassure customers that bricks are made to the highest ethical standards.

Keith Aldis, the chief executive of the Brick Development Association, said: “For a small family-run firm like York Handmade Brick to achieve the charter is no mean feat.

“Through our everyday monitoring of brick statistics and UK market throughput, we have noticed and have evidenced through work with our partners, at University College London and others, a significant increase in the importation of clay bricks from outside of the EU into the UK.

“There is a large defined area across Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa and the Far East, which is causing concern where bricks are manufactured seasonally, in large numbers, and more often than not using bonded or child labour.

“Those individuals making these bricks, work under extreme conditions with little or no regard to health and safety, poor sanitation, often with little or no pay. This is unacceptable in today’s business world.

“We would always ask everyone to check the provenance of the bricks they buy, supply or use but this can prove complicated, with some manufacturers and re-sellers sometimes deliberately hiding the source of their clay bricks or evading simple questions as to the provenance and production methods used in the manufacture of the clay bricks they sell.

“It is our view that some suppliers are simply re-branding poor-quality bricks with heart-warming British-sounding names, in order to associate themselves with the good reputation of UK clay brick and the potentially lucrative UK clay brick market."