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But Lifestyle can reveal that Primark is falling well short of being an ethical company and many of their suppliers, according to local NGOs working in Bangladesh, are 'regularly violating' principles which aim to provide decent working conditions and wages.Wages for women at many factories are as low as £8 a month - less than a third of the living wage.Workers have also admitted to toiling up to 96 hours a week, double the supposed maximum, and often losing their day off.'During my investigation, I met a woman who was 20 with a five-year-old son to support.She was working from 8am till 10pm daily, but often also through the night to get overtime pay.'Factory owners prefer to employ young girls because they are prepared to work longer hours for less as they don't have children,' says Alam.'But increasingly, I met older women in their 30s lying about their age to get the jobs, too.'This is even more tragic because they must leave their children with neighbours in the slums while they work.
It has also pledged to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags by 25 per cent by next year. But for campaigners, there is something decidedly difficult to swallow about Primark jumping on the new ethical bandwagon.'Primark is leading the way in cut-price fashion and it is naïve to think you can buy a £12 High-Street copy of a leading catwalk item and think nobody has been exploited in the process,' says Simon Mc Rae, senior campaigner at War On Want, a respected organisation that lobbies governments and works with leading international agencies to tackle global poverty.
But locals on the ground begged to differ.'If you are a Bangladeshi factory owner with an ethics rule book in one hand an order for thousands of dresses at a quick turn around in the other, you are not going to follow the ethics, and big companies know this,' says Amirul Haque Amin general secretary of the National Garment Workers' Federation in Bangladesh.'Budget retailers can't put ever increasing pressure on factory owners for quick cheap goods and expect them to be ethical.
Factories in Bangladesh are terrified of companies such as Primark pulling business from them if they do not meet budget and time deadlines.
Its prestigious 70,000sq ft trading space on London's most famous shopping street has set it on the road to becoming a totally credible place to shop.
Meanwhile, the Primark PR machine, which has hitherto been silent, has gone into overdrive.
The workers, predominantly female because men work in agriculture or construction, are in an ironic twist, between 15 and 25 - the age of the vast majority of shoppers who can be spotted coming out of Primark's 162 High Street stores every Saturday.