ThinkProgress reveals a horrifying story of major clothing labels being found with sweatshop labels containing cries of help.
A trio of women in the U.K. say they have found handmade labels reading “degrading sweatshop conditions” and “forced to work” sewn into clothes purchased at Primark stores in Wales and Ireland.
The first shopper to come forward bought a Primark dress in Swansea, Wales and found a hand-stitched label reading “forced to work exhausting hours” alongside the care instructions label on the dress, the Mirror reported on Wednesday. Then another shopper at the same store found a similar label with a different message. Each woman has been photographed with the garment and the label, but the Mirror has not published any pictures of a third shopper in Ireland who claims to have found a similar message in a pair of pants that Primark says have not been sold for four years.
The company has asked the women to bring in the garments so that it can investigate the apparent messages, noting that they have conducted nine separate inspections of the suppliers of the clothes in question since 2009 and found no evidence of violations of the company’s 11-point code of conduct for conditions at supplier factories. A statement on the company’s website raises suspicions about the labels’ authenticity, saying that the two items from the Swansea store “were made in two different countries many thousands of miles apart.”
If the labels are a hoax, it may be part of an ongoing campaign by worker activists outside the company’s supply chain to call attention to garment worker exploitation, hoping to curb the unsafe and exploitative practices of developing world garment factory owners that has followed the man-made disaster at Rana Plaza more than a year ago.