Primark supplier sacks hundreds of workers demanding a living wage

 In a previous feature, we reported on the widespread protests undertaken by thousands of garment industry workers in Bangladesh to demand fair pay.

Following this, over 12,000 have been dismissed with many blacklisted and unable to find new work. This is despite promises that they would not face reprisals for participating in the largely peaceful protests.

Campaign group Labour Behind the Label demanded action from Primark after 427 workers from one of its supplier factories lost their jobs with the majority of these also facing unspecified charges brought against them by the factory owners. “As the profits roll in on the back of Bangladeshi workers’ efforts, Primark has not publicly disputed the arrests and the dismissals or shown any indication that it is demanding that suppliers reinstate workers and pay compensation”.

A response from Primark was published by Business and Human Rights:

“We have suspended these suppliers’ factories while the investigations are ongoing, meaning no new orders can be placed. 

If our investigations find that workers’ contracts were terminated inappropriately, we will work with factories to ensure the appropriate remediation programmes are put in place, which includes the remuneration of any legally owed compensation.”

Brands H&M, M&S, Mango, Zara and Next have also been criticised for not acting to protect garment workers linked to their supply chain from the same situation.

Successful campaign by Labour Behind the Label

With thousands of people having signed their petition Labour Behind the Label released the following statement: "You asked Primark to call on suppliers to reinstate all the workers who lost their jobs for peacefully exercising their rights. Primark say they have secured compensation for all the workers dismissed and, in a few cases, got them reinstated. We are waiting for the full figures".

This shows the power of public pressure but companies should already be incorporating policies and practices to prevent situations like this in the first place and to act swiftly when issues arise. Garment workers in fashion supply chains should not have to rely on public campaigns to force corporations to protect their rights.

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