Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Who mkes a £30 cashmere sweater?

Illegal immigrants being paid half the minimum wage, unsurprisingly.

Britain's high street fashion giant Primark was at the centre of a storm last night over allegations that illegal immigrants paid just over half the minimum wage had been employed to make fashionable knitwear for one of the firm's bestselling ranges.

Primark announced yesterday that it had launched an inquiry after an investigation by the Observer and the BBC revealed that Manchester-based garment firm TNS Knitwear may have breached key employment and immigration laws. Breaches of the legislation could lead to fines of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker and potential prosecution for tax evasion and employment law abuses.

Primark also said it had handed material uncovered by the investigation to the UK Border Agency.

The workers, caught by an undercover journalist on a hidden camera, were allegedly being paid £3 an hour - just over half the minimum wage of £5.73 - for 12-hour days, seven days a week. Many of the garments made by the Pakistanis, Afghans and Indians over the past five months had ended up two miles away in one of the retail giant's largest and most profitable stores in Manchester's bustling Market Street.

The allegations were put to Primark this weekend, five months after an undercover investigation began into Primark's British supply chain. The investigation focused on Manchester's textile industry and in particular TNS Knitwear, which supplies 20,000 garments to the firm every week. Fashion Waves, a supplier used by TNS, was also investigated.

So much for buying British.


Toby Wollin said...

Makes me wonder about pay and working conditions for the Chinese putting handles on those fancy Italian bags inside Italy.

Ms Baroque said...

Well, yes. Not surprising, though, somehow... that's sort of the image of ultra-cheap clothes.

The thing is, if there are no cheap Primark jumpers (£30 cashmere, £6 cotton, £3 acrylic), what will the people who earn £6 an hour making the expensive ones buy?

I mean, it's all very well to say, "buy expensive because it's better quality" etc, but the people at the bottom - wherever that is - of whichever chain cannot afford to do that.

I'm not saying it's all right to pay people £3 an hour! I'm just saying.

Cathy said...

Maybe they could buy jumpers that aren't made of cashmere? Radical, I know.