The story about ‘cries for help’ sewn in to Primark clothes bought in Swansea has appeared in all the major newspapers in the UK, has been shared on social media and has elicited shocked and horrified responses.
Two messages have been reported, one saying, “Forced to work exhausting hours” the other with, “Degrading sweatshop conditions”. Whether these messages are authentic remains to be investigated but it is known that the conditions referred to in the messages exist in factories all over the world.
Will this be the wake up call that shoppers need in order to convince them to pay heed to the provenance of the clothes, food and goods they buy? Outlining the facts about how mass produced fashion is made in documentary after documentary seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Watching factory workers die as the unsafe buildings in which they work collapse around them also seems to have had little effect on the choices we’re making.
Can this direct message from an actual sweatshop worker be the key to forcing a sea change in the way we buy? I hope so.
Clean Clothes Campaign responds to stories of labels found in Primark clothing.
Over the past week there have been reports of notes for help or messages stitched into clothing sold by UK and Irish retailer Primark purportedly from workers suffering inhumane conditions in the production of clothes for the retail giant.
Clean Clothes Campaign, in response to the stories says, “It is difficult to know whether these notes are genuine. However speculation on the origin of the messages should not distract from the known reality which is that the conditions described – in particular long hours, poverty pay and unsafe working conditions – are a fact of life for the majority of women and men producing clothes for high street brands including Primark.
“As our recent reports, Tailored Wages and Stitched Up, clearly demonstrate inhumane conditions and wages that fall far short of a living wage are endemic in the industry and can be found from clothing factories in Bangladesh to Bulgaria, Cambodia to Croatia.
“Primark are not alone in sourcing from these factories and it is important that Primark and all clothing brands take action and put an end to exploitative and inhumane purchasing practices and ensure the people who make their clothes are paid a living wage in decent working conditions.
“To pay a decent living wage would cost a brand like Primark less than 25 cents on the price of a t-shirt. As these stories have shown, consumers do not want to buy cheap fashion at the expense of another persons well-being.”