12 January 2009 | Jake Kanter
Primark is to investigate the labour standards at one of its suppliers following "serious allegations" the vendor breached UK employment laws.
The retailer's inquiry was launched after the Observer and the BBC claimed to have found poor conditions for employees at Primark's Manchester-based vendor TNS Knitwear. The supplier denied the allegations.
The five-month probe claimed to have discovered the supplier was employing staff without UK visas, being paid just £3 an hour for working 12-hour days, seven days a week. The reports also alleged staff were paid cash in hand, without tax authorities being informed.
Primark, owned by Associated British Foods, is to carry out its own investigation into the allegations. The firm said it was "extremely concerned" by the findings and if TNS Knitwear was in breach of its supplier code of conduct the retailer would work to "put things right".
A spokesman for the company said: "Primark was informed this week that one of the UK factories from which it buys some knitwear has allegedly broken a number of UK employment, tax and immigration laws. Primark is conducting its own investigation into this."
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), of which Primark is a member, said it was "horrified" by the allegations and has launched its own investigation to determine if the company failed to implement the ETI code of conduct.