'Sweatshops' protest hits Primark

23 June 2008 - 11:12am
Press release

Primark demo © Vickiesha Chabra
Photo © Vickiesha Chabra

Campaigners today demonstrated outside British fashion retailer Primark's flagship store in London amid claims that workers producing its clothes overseas face poor wages and conditions.

The protest came just before a BBC TV Panorama film shows some of India's poorest people, including children, working long, gruelling hours for poverty pay on Primark clothes in slum workshops and refugee camps.

The charity's Oxford Street protest warned shoppers that Primark is misleading them by maintaining that its garment workers earn a living wage.

The living wage claim appears on the new 'ethical Primark' website launched in recent days in an attempt to reassure customers over increasing criticism. And according to the website, employees in Primark suppliers' factories have freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. But War on Want says its own research has revealed workers earn well under a living wage and face hostility to trade union representation.

Primark's website also cites dropping suppliers for ethical reasons as a last resort. War on Want condemns Primark for responding to Panorama's findings by terminating contracts with three suppliers, which could cost hundreds of jobs.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Pressure on Indian suppliers to deliver fast fashion at rock bottom prices has made sweatshop labour inevitable. Again and again, scandals exposing UK retailers exploiting garment workers underline that the public cannot trust stores to police themselves. It is high time the British government introduced regulation to stop this shameful abuse."

Primark demo © Vickiesha Chabra
Photo © Vickiesha Chabra

 


NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • Viewers can see Panorama's film Primark on the rack on BBC1 from 9.00-10.00 pm on Monday (23 June 2008).
  • War on Want's earlier report Fashion Victims revealed workers in Bangladesh paid as little as 5p an hour to produce clothes for Primark.
  • In July last year the British daily newspaper the Guardian, together with War on Want, found Bangladeshi workers making Primark clothes toiling for up to 80 hours a week for as little as 4p an hour.
  • Last September the Guardian, along with the charity, found Bangalore workers in India facing poor wages and conditions producing clothes for Primark.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728
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