Primark has ditched three of its suppliers in Southern India after it discovered that they had sub-contracted some work to children.
Primark said that the factories had sub-contracted embroidery and sequin work to unapproved sub-contractors without Primark’s knowledge or consent. The sub-contracting involved home working and in some instances children were also found to be working at home. The investigation was prompted by information passed to Primark by the BBC.
Primark said that the affected garments represented 0.04% of its worldwide sourcing.
Primark said in a statement: “Primark is an ethical business that demands the highest standards from its suppliers. It has a strict Supplier Code of Conduct which expressly bans the use of child labour. In addition none of our suppliers is permitted to sub-contract without our specific consent and agreement. None of these suppliers is permitted to use home working. Under no circumstances would Primark ever knowingly permit such activities whether directly through its suppliers or through third party sub-contractors. Primark does not tolerate serious breaches of its fundamental principles.”
In addition to sacking the factories at fault, Primark said it had taken urgent steps to further tighten control of suppliers. The company said it had summoned suppliers to meetings to reinforce the stringent trading standards it expects and to emphasise that it will not tolerate this type of sub-contracting.
Primark said it would appoint a highly reputable NGO in Southern India as a partner to act as its eyes and ears on the ground. It said discussions were already at an advanced stage.
Primark said its prices were low because, “We don’t overcharge our customers. Most of our clothes are bought from the same factories as other as other fashion retailers and people producing them are paid exactly the same whatever the label and whatever the price in the shop. We are able to offer good value and good quality because of low mark-ups and big volumes. We use simple designs, our overhead costs are extremely low and we don’t run expensive advertising campaigns.”
Primark said it would also launch Primark Better Lives Foundation to provide financial assistance to organisations devoted to improving the lives of young people.
To read the full statement from Primark click on the attached Word document. To see more info on Primark’s ethical code visit www.ethicalprimark.co.uk