The stone industry is the most rapidly growing membership sector in ETI, which has seen nine stone importers join the workers' rights organisation since 2006. They have formed their own collaborative membership group alongside ETI trade union and NGO members to tackle issues such as child labour and poor working conditions in the Indian sandstone industry.
But in recent weeks, ETI has become aware that growing numbers of non-ETI companies in the stone sector are misleading their customers by suggesting that they are members of the ETI, and by extension that their stone is "ethical".
ETI has written to several companies in the past week asking them to remove all statements that wrongly infer that they are ETI members from their websites and other promotional material.
Says Martin Cooke, ETI Director and Chair of ETI's Stone Group:
"The recent upsurge in ETI membership among stone importers is a sign of a bold new resolve within the industry to face up to some of the difficult labour standards issues that exist in supply countries.
"It is therefore all the more worrying to see some unscrupulous companies making statements which not only suggest membership of ETI but also distort what ETI membership stands for. This threatens to undermine the credibility of ETI and ethical trade in general. We take such abuses extremely seriously". Where unauthorised use is made of the ETI logo or of copyrighted pictures on websites and brochures, we will not hesitate to take legal action, if necessary."
"Our members demonstrate their commitment to ethical trade by their actions, not be making unsubstantiated claims to be 'ethical'
"We are not an accreditation body. We do not accredit auditors, certify workplaces or label products as compliant with our Base Code.
"The ETI Stone Group meets regularly to share best practice in tackling workers' issues in the stone sector. We work closely with parallel organisations in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, whose members are importing often from the same sources, particularly in India and China."
ETI member companies within the stone sector are: Marshalls, Brett Landscaping, BBS Granite Concepts Ltd, DNS Stones, London Stone Paving Ltd, Natural Paving Products, Unique Building Products, Pavestone and Stone Masters.
Last year ITN highlighted the harsh conditions in the Rajasthan stone industry, which supplies 250,000 tonnes of sandstone to the UK.
Often working without appropriate safety equipment, workers are vulnerable to serious accidents and health problems, including silicosis, which can lead to premature death.