PRIMARK: Have you paid your workers?
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- PRIMARK: Have you paid your workers?
Primark was quick to cancel all of their orders already placed with factories when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and most shops in the UK and abroad closed. The cancelled orders had a devastating effect, leaving suppliers with a shortfall in cash and resulting in workers going without their wages.
After intense pressure from campaigners, Primark eventually agreed to pay for their orders. But have the workers in their supply chain been paid throughout the pandemic?
Since March, workers who produce Primark’s clothes in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia have been protesting mass dismissal, unpaid wages and reduction in pay. Primark, we want to know, do you #PayYourWorkers?
Workers are protesting un(der)paid wages
In Bangladesh, one of Primark’s suppliers (KAC Fashionwear Limited) which usually employs more than 6000 people, now only has 500 of them working now, while the rest of the workers are on ‘holiday’. Workers have stated that only workers who are currently working are being paid, while others are going without wages. The factory management has reported to have said that they are unable to pay salaries now due to lack of funds.
In Myanmar, a Primark supplier (Shinsung Tongsang International Co., Ltd) closed its factory in May, resulting in 2000 out of 2108 workers losing their jobs and receiving only partial payment.
In Cambodia, workers from another factory (New Best Global Textile Co Ltd) allegedly supplying Primark, staged a protest over wages and compensation owed after their employer fled. The workers are seeking eight days of owed wages, suspension benefits, severance pay and other compensation after the company closed.
This is just a snapshot of workers experiences from three of Primark’s factories, the true scale of the impact on garment workers is much bigger. The Clean Clothes Campaign estimates that garment workers are owed between 2.42 and 4.38 billion GBP in unpaid wages from the first three months of the pandemic alone.
All words, no action?
In April, after extensive campaigning from Labour Behind the Label and our partners on order cancellations, Primark announced that it had created a fund to help pay the wages of workers linked to orders that were due for shipment in the month after they were cancelled in 7 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
However, Primark has not shared how they ensured that the money reached workers, what measures were taken in other countries in which Primark produces, how the brand calculated how much it had to pay and if all workers have been paid in full. The brand also stipulated that the wage compensation would be adjusted to account for government support packages, a caveat that has caused confusion among suppliers and industry bodies. Despite the lack of transparency, Primark claims that the program has been implemented successfully.
What do we want Primark to do?
Primark has a duty to protect all the workers in its supply chain, and to make sure that they are paid their wages. Primark also has a duty to provide the facts to support their claims of successful wage payment. Primark has had strong post-lockdown trading, it must now assure us that their profits have not been made off the back of unpaid labour.
We are calling on Primark to publish on their website, their commitment to ensure that all workers in their supply chain are paid their legally mandated or regular wages and benefits, whichever is higher. This includes wage arrears (back pay) and, where applicable, negotiated severance pay.
If Primark truly believes that their wage fund has been implemented successfully, they should have no problem guaranteeing that all their workers will be paid throughout the pandemic and beyond.
1. Sign our petition
Use your voice and call on Primark to ensure that their workers are paid throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Sign our petition today and ask Primark, do you #PayYourWorkers?
2. Virtual protest
The UK lockdown means that we can’t meet and protest together. Instead, we are asking activists to make protest banners and take a photo with them outside their local Primark store (or if it’s difficult to do that, take a photo at home).
Share your photos on social media between the 11th -20th November, tagging @Primark and use the hashtag #PayYourWorkers.
3. Take to social media
Take to social media and let @Primark know that you want them to commit to paying the workers in their supply chain. Click HERE to use our ready made tweet.
You can also download images to share on social media HERE.