Primark has announced it believes two ‘cry for help’ labels found sewn into two garments at a Swansea branch are the product of a hoax carried out in the UK, following an investigation conducted by the retailer.
The investigation came after Rebecca Gallagher claimed that a £10 dress she purchased from a Primark store in Swansea contained a label reading “forced to work exhausting hours”.
A second label on a Primark garment from the same store read: “Degrading sweatshop conditions”.
Another woman who purchased a pair of trousers from Primark in Belfast in 2011 claimed to have recently found a handwritten note from China. The note read: “SOS. SOS. SOS. We are prisoners in the Xiang Nan Prison of the Hubei Province in China.
“We work 15 hours per day and the food we eat wouldn’t even be given to dogs or pigs. We work as hard as oxen in the field.”
The writer claimed to be a prisoner in the Xiang Nan Prison in China’s Hubei Province.
The news sparked outrage across the UK and saw the fashion clothing chain deny allegations of forced labour at its factories, claiming it “knows its responsibility” to workers.
A subsequent investigation into the labels determined they were “clearly from the same source”.
A spokesperson for Primark said: “Our investigation into the labels sewn onto two garments bought separately from our Swansea store in 2013, has led us to the conclusion that it is more likely than not, to have been a hoax carried out in the UK.”
“It is almost impossible to imagine circumstances in which such similar labels could have been sewn onto the garments at the factory where they were made, given that they were made by different suppliers, in different factories, on different continents, one in Romania and the other in India, thousands of miles apart.
“However, both garments carrying the hoax labels, were bought from our Swansea store in 2013. It may be no more than a coincidence that an exhibition of labels of a similar kind was held in Swansea, also in 2013. Visitors were encouraged to sew labels, using similar wording and appearance to the hoax labels, onto clothing."
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.
It said it is continuing to investigate the note and if there is any link to the "hoax" Swansea labels.