Primark defends charges of unethical working condition in Bangladesh
War on Want warns that Primark is ignoring rising basic living costs as employees making garments in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka are now worse off than two years ago, when the charity first exposed their hardship.
All the evidence shows that international trade, including in textiles, is to be welcomed as an invaluable source of income for poor nations, and especially for women in those nations - a fact stressed time and again by campaigners.
The garment industry is raising the living standards of workers in the supply chain by providing employment which would otherwise simply not be available. Instead of working in subsistence agriculture - the only real alternative – women become wage earners with a regular income, often the only one in the household.
That fact alone has done more to empower women in the developing world than anything else, something that is all too frequently ignored by organisations keen to promote agendas of their own.
Far from seeking to exploit these people, the British garment industry is trying its hardest to improve living standards in these countries. Primark specifically is an ethical organisation, is committed to ethical sourcing, and seeks to improve the conditions of workers in its supply chain.
Primark is constantly reviewing and working on improvements to the working conditions of the people in its supply chain. We have an extensive auditing programme, supplier training programme and work with other third parties, including NGOs and governments, to ensure that our suppliers comply with their contractual commitments under our clear and strict Code of Conduct.
In Bangladesh, we continually audit our suppliers. These audits are often unannounced and always paid for by Primark. We know that auditing is a necessary, but not sufficient, tool for change so we are devoting more of our time to audit capacity building and training with our suppliers. We have also started a programme of direct engagement with workers and junior management to ensure that they are aware of our commitment to them and to continual improvement
Our customers can continue to shop in Primark secure in the knowledge that the company works hard to ensure that high standards are met. We aim to give UK consumers unquestionable value for money, but never at the expense of the people who make our clothes.
We remain open to constructive engagements with campaigners in relation to these issues. Given the extent of our commitment, we clearly share the same long-term ambitions.