Primark escapes censure as ETI offers its supportFebruary 2010
The Ethical Trading Initiative has decided after a year-long investigation not to take action against the clothing retailer Primark over allegations of workers’ rights abuses at some of its factories.
The ETI said that, because the company has ‘significantly ramped up its ethical trade activities’, it will not enforce any sanctions – which could have included expulsion – despite other members’ concerns that Primark was damaging the body’s reputation.
Primark has recruited ethical trading staff in sourcing countries, and has developed new ethical supply chain management policies.
The ETI says this has helped to embed ethical trade across the business since last year, when Primark was accused of dealing with a Manchester-based supplier that paid illegal immigrants well below the minimum wage. The company had earlier admitted that some of its suppliers elsewhere used child labour (EP10, issue 3, p6).
Since early 2009 Primark has not been allowed to make reference to the ETI either in stores or on its website. The ban ‘surprised and disappointed’ the company at the time.
In the past year, however, Primark is said to have made ‘enormous strides’. ETI director Dan Rees said: ‘While there is still a great deal of work left to do, given the pace of improvement and the resources now committed, we are satisfied that Primark is committed to a robust and credible ethical trade strategy. Where weaknesses remain, we are committed to working with the company to address them.
‘We do not walk away from companies when problems are found in their supply chains. We are determined to work with our members at the sharp end of ethical trade, where workers need us most.’
A Primark statement read: ‘Primark is pleased to report that this review has now concluded and generated a set of recommendations, the vast majority of which are already completed or well under way.’
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