Primark denies forced labour allegations as more 'cry for help' labels emerge

Items bought in Swansea and Belfast have been found with notes

Primark has denied allegations of forced labour at its factories and claimed it “knows its responsibility” to workers as more “cry for help” labels emerge.

A £10 dress bought in a branch of the low-cost fashion chain in Swansea contained a label sewn with the message “forced to work exhausting hours” and a cheap top 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.

She sent it to Amnesty International, who said the note, wrapped around a prison identity card, pleaded for help from the international community and condemned the Chinese government for alleged human rights violations.

The writer claimed to be a prisoner in the Xiang Nan Prison in China’s Hubei Province and forced to work 15 hours a day.

The dress contained a label reading “forced to work exhausting hours” A protest against alleged human rights issues at supply factories 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.”

The retailer requested the return of the three items and investigations have started.

A statement said 10,000 factory audits have been carried out at suppliers since 2009 and said such incidents are treated “very seriously”.

Bangladeshi Garment workers sew T-shirts at a factory in Dhaka on March 18, 2009 Bangladeshi Garment workers sew T-shirts at a factory in Dhaka on March 18, 2009 Patrick Corrigan, the Northern Ireland programme director for Amnesty International, called on the government to amend its Modern Day Slavery Bill to up controls on company supply chains.

“It is a horrific tale,” he added. “It’s very difficult to know whether it's genuine, but the fear has to be that this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

It is the latest ethical setback for the retailer since the Rana Plaza factory disaster in 2013, in which more than 1,000 people died in a tragedy that raised questions about the way cut-price clothing for Primark and other Western clothing retailers was made.

Whatever the outcome of the investigation into the labels, the scandal has made many shoppers question the true price of discount fashion.

Rebecca Gallagher, 25, who bought the dress in Swansea, told the South Wales Evening

Read more: Primark shopper finds 'cry for help' stitched into dress
THE PRIMARK ‘CRY FOR HELP’ WON'T CHANGE MY SHOPPING HABITS
Perhaps it's time to stop bashing Primark - comment
Leading retailers shun sweatshops summit after Bangladesh disaster
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

SThree: Trainee Recuitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn