17 July 2007 | Paul Snell
Three British retailers have defended their sourcing operations in Bangladesh after a newspaper accused their suppliers of worker mistreatment.
Tesco, ASDA and Primark said they would investigate allegations made in The Guardian yesterday that workers making clothes in the country are working up to 80 hours a week for only 4 pence an hour.
ASDA said in a statement: "We find abuse of any kind unacceptable. If we find any cases we act upon them straight away. Unfortunately The Guardian won't share the name of the particular factory so we can act upon these accusations. Even so we are carrying out a full investigation."
Tesco was also critical of the newspaper for not providing them with further information about the claims. "These allegations are always serious, but without being provided with any details we can't investigate them," said a spokesman. "We believe that organisations have a responsibility to give us the details, in private or in public, so we can ensure any alleged exploitation stops."
A spokesman for Primark told supplymanagement.com: "We make great effort to ensure factories with which we work comply with our suppliers code of conduct, including a programme of regular third-party audits. Where instances of non-compliance are reported we have agreed a programme of remediation with the factory concerned and these will be subsequently re-audited to ensure compliance."
Tesco said it had completed unannounced audits at 48 factories in Bangladesh between April and June. Primark also said it had examined all of its suppliers in the country in the past six months. ASDA said it audited its factories there up to three times a year.
All three firms, who are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative, said they remain committed to sourcing in Bangladesh, and that their presence in the country has a positive impact on workers.