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Primark investigating claims 'sweatshop' labels were found by shoppers in dresses

By CMJacqui  |  Posted: June 26, 2014

Rebecca Gallagher claims she found a label in a dress bought from Primark which said 'degrading sweatshop conditions'

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Top high street fashion chain Primark is investigating how shoppers claim to have found labels sewn into summer dresses saying "sweatshops conditions" and "exhausting hours". 

Two women claim they found the hand-made labels sewn into bargain tops bought from the same Primark store in Swansea city centre, while a third woman from Northern Ireland said she found a 'cry for help' note handwritten in Chinese on a pair of Primark trousers.

Rebecca Gallagher, 25, said she spotted a label reading: "Forced to work exhausting hours" next to the washing instruction of her bargain top. And a second shopper, Rebecca Jones, 21, revealed how she found another label reading: "Degrading sweatshop conditions". 

The two women - who do not know each other - say they bought their £10 summer dresses from the same Primark store in Whitewalls, Swansea. 

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It comes after the discount fashion retailers have been criticised over working conditions of workers abroad - but Primark insists it has a strict code of ethics. 

Mum-to-be Miss Jones said: "I was really shocked when I saw the label saying it was degrading sweatshop conditions. 

 "I used to shop a lot at Primark but not so much now. The label has made me think about how my clothes are made. I have no idea who made the label or how it go it there - but it does make you think." 

Fellow shopper Miss Gallagher, 25, spotted the handmade label sewn into the multi-coloured top from discount store Primark. 

She said: "I was amazed when I checked for the washing instructions and spotted this label. It was stitched by hand to say "Forced to work exhausting hours" and sewn in with the other normal labels. 

"I dread to think that my summer top may be made by some exhausted person toiling away for hours in some sweatshop abroad." 

A statement from Primark said it was “clear” that the incidents arose from merchandise bought several years ago. 

The dress and top from Swansea were made in different countries, although Primark did not specify which, but appeared to be of “a very similar type”, a company spokesman said. They were on sale in 2013, whereas the trousers bought in Northern Ireland were last ordered by Primark in 2009. 

The company claimed the factory where the trousers were made has been inspected nine times by its “ethical standards team” since 2009 and no prison or evidence of forced labour was found. 

A spokesman for Primark said: “Despite growing suspicions in relation to the origin of the labels and the considerable time delay since the garments were bought, Primark knows its responsibilities to the workers in its supply chain and has already started detailed investigations.” 

Primark's ethics came under fire in 2011 after the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh killed 1,000 workers, 580 of whom were employed by a Primark supplier. 

The company recently announced it will pay out compensation to workers who were injured and the families of workers who died in the collapse. 

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  • ImSparticus  |  June 26 2014, 5:31PM

    Well that's good that someone has been clever enough to make consumers think before they buy. Not only are they produced under poor work conditions, they are produced by children who should be at school getting an education, that's not so good. Even worse these children get whipped by the owners if they think they are not working hard enough. Do your research all the information is out there. Maybe before you purchase an item, you should ask yourself, "why is this item so reasonably priced?" I don't know how these labels got attached to these articles, but those responsible are making a small step towards the betterment of our world. Primark will, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. As long as they are making money they don't care. You pay for what you get. For those that still don't care about child exploitation, happy shopping!

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  • Doitdreckley  |  June 26 2014, 4:14PM

    Ii ts idiocy for any country to send overseas business: whetgher it is making clothes or running its own public services. Jobs are lost and we fund those who sometimes want to hurt us. Nothing wrong with the refrain 'British jobs for British workers'. Cheap goods and services are down to someone else suffering and in the end we see that the suffering extends to British people (low wages, bullying employers, zero hour contracts etc).

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  • welsh_exile  |  June 26 2014, 3:11PM

    This should really come as no surprise to anyone. The Bangladeshi building collapse in April 2013 revealed the link between Primark and garment manufacturing sweatshops on the Indian sub-continent. Their clothing ranges are cheap for a reason.

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