Posted by: Skeptical Moose | December 4, 2009

The Primark Price: Globalisation in practice!

Question: how come this multi-sequined top is retailing at an exceptionally cheap price?

Primark Answer: we monitor costs closely, practice excellent supply chain management, utilise bulk discounting, yada yada

Real Answer: we get a 5-year-old to do it for a criminally low price

Ethical standards and poverty campaigner ‘War on Want’ and the BBC (2008’s Panorama investigation) have both uncovered evidence of Primark’s horrendous abuse, yet the public aren’t too fussed as long as they can buy a shirt for £3. What does that tell us about our values?

Take a look at these latest findings, released today in The Independent. I won’t say any more (much of my thinking is summed up here), but please consider this when deciding on where to purchase that £50 suit …

Primark’s code: And what the workers say

Wages

Primark’s code of conduct says wages would be “enough to meet basic needs and to provide discretionary income”

Workers in Bangladesh claim to be paid as little as £19.42 a month – half a “living wage” of £39.74. War on Want says they cannot afford nutritious food, decent housing or adequate healthcare

Hours

Primark’s code says “workers shall not be required to work in excess of 48 hours per week” and overtime must be voluntary

Workers say they work up to 14 hours a day, six days a week. Overtime is “mandatory.” The average week is 70 hours. Workers are “exhausted and malnourished”

Conditions/Abuse

Primark says factories must provide a “safe and hygienic” working environment, clean toilets and potable water. The code bans physical and verbal abuse and sexual or other harassment

Workers say there is no safe drinking water and toilets are dirty. Women say they suffer physical and verbal abuse for enquiring about pay and overtime

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Responses

  1. A fair and true article. The sad thing is that you can’t peg this practise to discount stores like Primark alone. Many of the more “respected” brand names engage in the same sadistic practises.
    Adidas, Calvin Klein, Disney, Gap, Hollister, Guess?, Puma, Levi, Nike, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart, Abercrombie and Fitch, Reebok and Tesco are other culprits to name but a few.

    This disease does not restrict itself to the retail industry but spreads its wings through the multitude of activities multinational corporations attend to. Shell for example has been known to pollute and poison the water supply of Nigeria many village inhabitants to save money on the extraction of the much sort after liquid gold, all to save a few pennies in what is already an immensely profitable trade.

    An analogy if I may. Sweatshop practises and their implied approval in modern society is no different to the black slave trade of pre Kennedy America. The only real difference is you never meet your slave, your slave works for everyone and by playing the ignorant card we as people are setting ourselves into a dark society where the pursuit of money is supreme.

    As corporations get bigger and the individual’s interests are increasingly discounted it’s only a matter of time until we reap what we sow and the distasteful oppression of the unfortunate people of the developing world becomes the norm on these shores.

    • Too true Mr Shamoo. I would urge anyone reading this to watch Annie Leonard’s ‘The Story of Stuff’ – just 20 minutes and gives you a fantastic breakdown as to where our prized belongings come from. It also explains how ‘designed obsolescence’ has become the norm …


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