Three Pleas for Help from Chinese Workers Found in Fashion Chain's Garments
Rebecca Gallagher, a woman from South Wales, U.K., purchased a dress from Primark, a popular fast-fashion brand in the United Kingdom. When she went to look for the tag with the washing instructions, she found a hand-stitched note that read, "Forced to work exhausting hours." She called Primark to inform them about the note, but claims that she was kept on hold for 15 minutes before being cut from the line.
A representative for Primark requested that Gallagher return the dress so the company can investigate the origin of the note, but stated that the company does not produce garments in sweatshops. The spokesperson also noted that 'no other incidents of this kind' have been reported. Except that is no longer true.
A second Welsh woman, Rebecca Jones, came forward with another hand-stitched labelon a Primark garment from the same store location in Swansea, Wales, this time reading, "Degrading sweatshop conditions." She tweeted the company an image of the note and called the customer service line, only to be put on hold then cut off, like Gallagher was.
Now a third woman has reported a sweatshop worker's message in a garment from Primark, this time in the form of a hand-written note found in a pair of pants purchased in 2011. Karen Wisínka of Northern Ireland found the note recently, because she never wore the pants. She gave the note, which was wrapped around a prison identity card, to Amnesty International. According to The Guardian, translated from the original Chinese, the note read:
"SOS! SOS! SOS! We are prisoners in the Xiang Nan prison of Hubei province in China. Our job inside the prison is to produce fashion clothes for export. 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. We call on the international community to condemn the Chinese government for the violation of our human rights!"
Primark denies use of forced labor camps or prisons to manufacture apparel and claims that the pants in question were made at a manufacturer that has been inspected nine times since 2009. However, Primark faced sweatshop allegations again in 2011. Of the 1,000 people killed in the Bangladesh factory collapse in 2011, 580 were employed by a Primark supplier.
Primark is investigating the origin of the notes found in the three garments.