Business News 2009 Business
News->New Primark store faces 'Anti-Sweatshops' storm
Primark store faces 'Anti-Sweatshops' storm
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Primark's new London store opened today, anti-poverty
campaigners hung out the retailer's 'dirty washing'
in public with a clothes line that cited workers
making its clothes for as little as 7p an hour.
The charity War on Want staged a demonstration amid
the store launch days after Primark announced a
massive 20 per cent jump in sales to £2.3
billion for the year to 12 September and profits
up 8 per cent to £252 million. It compared
Primark's growth with declining living standards
among garment workers on poverty wages for up to
80-hour weeks in three Bangladeshi factories.
The charity also contrasted
the Wood Green store's 75,000 square feet on two
floors with the tiny one-room slum homes Primark
garment workers share with four or five family
members. War on Want campaigner Seb Klier said:
'"Primark has just reported huge sales and
profits. But for many Bangladeshis producing its
clothes their grim living standards are falling
even lower as costs rise. It is high time Gordon
Brown introduced regulation to stop this abuse."
According to War on Want
research, workers making clothes for Primark in
the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka received on average
only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half
a living wage. Some employees were paid only the
minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month,
far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed
to escape dire hardship. The vast majority of
employees live in small, crowded shacks, many
of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities.
Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh,
employees said they were made to toil extra hours,
often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast
fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many
of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as
they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet
the Dhaka workers said none of their factories
was unionised. Ifat, who toils in a factory supplying
all three retailers, said: "I can't feed
my children three meals a day."
The charity targeted the
store opening in north London to step up the biggest-ever
call for British government action to stop fashion
retailers exploiting overseas workers. Thousands
of people have already signed up to the Love Fashion
Hate Sweatshops campaign for 50,000 names demanding
that Brown regulates the industry.
Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops
is also endorsed by television star Jo Wood, pop
singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal
and Ashley Jensen and clothes designer Betty Jackson.
Among other backers are TV personality Tony Robinson,
actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo
Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob
Supportive public figures
include Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary
of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner,
president of the GMB union, Queen's Counsel Michael
Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human
rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John
Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.