1. What has Primark done in response to the Rana Plaza disaster?
Primark continues to remember the people who died in the Rana Plaza building. We are working with our partners in Bangladesh to improve further factory safety and working conditions and we recognise that more needs to be done.
Following the tragedy, we commenced our programme of structural surveys in Bangladesh, to assess the structural integrity of factories from which we source garments. All the factories in Bangladesh that supply Primark have been assessed, and any new factory seeking to supply Primark will be assessed before the commencement of trade. To date the assessments have been conducted to the highest international standards by expert teams of structural and civil engineers from specialists engineering and architectural firms. Primark has also employed its own expert structural engineer to manage our Structural Integrity Programme.
In addition to this work Primark is also a signatory to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, an agreement between more than 200 apparel brands and retailers, international and local trade unions and NGOs working towards sustainable improvements to working conditions in the Bangladesh Garment Industry. The Accord introduced a common standard and an implementation framework that is being supported and enforced by all the Accord signatories.
Primark continues to monitor the welfare of the most vulnerable victims with long-term injuries or loss of earnings, who are connected to Primark’s supplier New Wave Bottoms.
2. How will Primark deliver safety standards?
We have a strict Code of Conduct in place designed to ensure that the suppliers we work with respect the rights of their workforce. Each year we carry out in excess of 2,000 audits every year. We employ a team of more than 65 specialists, supported by external auditing companies, who are based on the ground in nine key sourcing countries. They oversee this work and are critical to ensuring our standards are met. Our approach is rigorous, and we undertake training programmes with factories and suppliers to ensure that they have the skills to meet our standards and are able to address issues identified during the audit process.
Further information on our code of conduct can be found here; www.primark.com/en/our-ethics/workplace-rights/code-of-conduct
3. Fashion Revolution Week is calling on brands to be more transparent about their supply chains – what is Primark doing to ensure this?
Like almost every other fashion retailer on the high street, Primark products are made in countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and China. We ensure we know where our products are made and that they are traceable to the country and factory in which they have been produced. Today, every item of clothing sold in Primark stores must display the country of origin on its label, which identifies where the product was made. Our Code of Conduct sets out our standards and our teams on the ground ensure standards are being met. Our ethical trade team carries out audits to check that workers are being treated properly and that standards are adhering to the Code. If we find any breaches, we take action.
4. Is child labour involved when Primark garments are made?
Our strict Code of Conduct sets out the core principles that suppliers and factories must follow to ensure products are made in good working conditions that the people making them are of a legal working age, are treated decently and paid a fair wage. Primark-approved external auditors or our own internal team inspect every one of our suppliers in terms of our Code of Conduct to ensure these standards are met. All factories must meet these standards before any orders can be placed.
5. Does Primark own any factories?
Like most retailers, Primark sources the majority of its products from countries overseas such as India, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Turkey. We have approximately 700 first-tier suppliers who produce goods to our specification and design.
We do not own the companies or factories that produce our goods, but we do choose to take responsibility for the workers in those factories, to our customers and to our shareholders, to ensure that our products are made in good working conditions. Aproximately 98% of the factories we work with also produce for other retailers.
6. Do you publish the list of factories that you work with?
We do not publish the list of factories that we work with because this information is commercially sensitive.
7. Does Primark have a Code of Conduct? How strict is it?
Yes. Our Code of Conduct sets out the core principles that our suppliers must follow to ensure products are made in good working conditions and the people making them are treated decently and paid a fair wage. It is based upon the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, which is itself founded on the conventions of the ILO (the International Labour Organisation) and is an internationally recognised code of labour practice.
8. Does Primark “cut and run” if suppliers do not meet its Code of Conduct?
No. We believe in working with suppliers so that they improve their performance to meet and maintain our ethical standards. Only very rarely and as a last resort do we consider terminating a supplier’s contract for failure to comply with our Code of Conduct.
9. Do you allow your suppliers to subcontract work out?
Our Code of Conduct expressly bans our suppliers from sub-contracting without specific consent or agreement from Primark in advance.
10. Do workers making clothes for Primark earn a fair wage?
The Primark Code of Conduct is founded on the ETI Base Code which states that “wages and benefits paid for a standard working week meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmarks, whichever is higher. In any event, wages should always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income”. We require our suppliers to abide by this definition for all workers in our supply chain including ‘piece-rate’, subcontracted, informal and home-workers. Our programmes aim to help workers have better livelihoods, from earning a fair wage and knowing their rights at work, through to managing a household budget and saving money effectively. We’re also working with other organisations and retailers on what else we can do to help workers earn a living wage, which is one that includes the total cost of living, including healthcare, food, education and housing.
We are a founding member of ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) which is an initiative between international brands and retailers, manufacturers and trade unions to address the issue of living wages in the textile and garment supply chain. ACT aims to improve wages by establishing industry collective bargaining in key countries supported by world class manufacturing standards and responsible purchasing practices. Work is currently in the early stages.
11. Does Primark train its buyers on how to purchase products ethically?
Yes. Our ethical trade team works hand in hand with our buyers and sourcing team, providing support on a daily basis, and running dedicated training programmes so that buyers are aware of ethical issues in the countries that our products are sourced from.
Our factory database, developed by the British Standards Institute, enables our buyers to receive a regularly updated and detailed report of all suppliers and factories producing for their department. The report includes information on each factory’s ethical performance, recent audit results, and any outstanding non-compliance, along with other key sourcing data. Having integrated data like this allows buyers to make informed sourcing decisions.
12. I watched the Panorama documentary about Primark. What was Primark’s response to these claims?
In 2008, Primark was featured on the BBC TV Panorama programme: “Primark on the Rack”, which claimed to show three young boys being used to manufacture clothes sold in Primark. After 3 years, a lengthy investigation by Primark and a comprehensive review by the BBC Trust, the BBC Trust has confirmed that this footage was fabricated and the programme should never have been broadcast.
explains how this happened and what Primark had to do to expose this false claim and clear its name.
13. What is Sumangali and is Primark doing anything to address Sumangali labour practices?
Young women, who make up the majority of the textile and garment industry workforce in southern India, are often recruited from outlying rural areas to work in spinning mills. They are given fixed term contracts and given accommodation in hostels, sometimes within the factory compound, and receive a monthly stipend with the remainder of their earnings paid in a lump sum at the end of the contract period. The appeal of this system for young women and their families is that it offers them a lump sum that can be used as a marriage dowry. Although dowry payments are illegal in India, they continue to exist in many rural areas. The programme is called the sumangali or ‘marriage assistance’ scheme, and was introduced almost a decade ago in Southern India. Reports by Anti-Slavery International and SOMO have raised serious concerns regarding the safety and welfare of workers in garment mills and factories which operate these schemes.
Primark, along with other retailers, is a member of collaborative initiatives that are working to identify sustainable solutions to these practices, and provide safe and legal employment conditions for workers. We are a member of a local stakeholder forum, The Tirupur Stakeholders Forum, which includes retailers, NGOs, trade unions, and an industry association representing manufacturers in the region. Primark is supportive of the work of the forum in enabling local stakeholders to identify and drive effective solutions.
The Tamil Nadu Multi-Stakeholder Group, convened by the Ethical Trading Initiative, aims to identify how we can collectively support local initiatives and stakeholders such as the forum, and further the work they have begun. Primark is a member of the group and sits upon the Steering Committee.
14. Does Primark have a policy on sustainable palm oil?
Yes. As part of the ABF group of companies, we share their position on the sourcing of palm oil. As members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), ABF is committed to promoting an increased supply of certified sustainable palm oil by 2015. ABF has committed that, provided supply is available, all of its businesses will use only certified sustainable palm oil.
15. Does Primark have a policy on the use of animal testing?
Yes. Primark does not conduct and does not commission any animal testing. Our terms of trade with suppliers make it clear that cosmetic products and their ingredients must not be tested on animals.
16. Does Primark have a policy on the use of angora?
Following concerns about animal welfare and the use of angora in clothing, the company has ceased ordering all products that contain angora.
17. Does Primark use sandblasting on any of its products?
We made a business decision in 2010 to stop using sandblasting on all our products, following concerns about potential risks to workers' health. Throughout 2011 we worked with our buyers and suppliers to look at potential alternative techniques that are safe and viable. During this period we phased out our sandblasted product. As of October 2011, Primark has fully eradicated the process from its supply chain.
18. Does Primark use leather?
We use some leather in our products, predominantly in accessories and shoes. We are currently working to map and assess tanneries in our supply chain.
19. Does Primark sell organic or Fairtrade cotton?
We have sold organic cotton products in the past and we plan on selling organic and Fairtrade cotton products in the future depending on market demand.
20. Has Primark signed up to Greenpeace’s Detox campaign?
Yes. Primark has long recognised the importance of reducing the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. We have committed to work with industry and stakeholders, including Greenpeace, to ban the use of certain chemicals from the supply chain. As part of that commitment we have become a member of the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) Group
an industry working group of major apparel and footwear brands.
Our Detox Commitment
to phase out the use of certain chemicals was published in 2014, and is supported by our Restricted Substances List
21. Does Primark have a policy on the use of Uzbek cotton?
Primark has signed up to the Responsible Sourcing Network’s Cotton Pledge, in doing so it has committed to not knowingly source Uzbek cotton for the manufacturing of any of its products.