I have been battling in the last few weeks with the news about a collapsed factory in Bangladesh and the many deaths that occurred as a result. When I first heard the news, I thought nothing of it except to feel sorry for the families that lost loved ones in that disaster. But when I realised that the factory manufactured clothes for Primark amongst others, I couldn’t help to feel the news hitting much closer to home.
I went to Primark a few weeks ago to pick up a few shorts and t shirts for Neo. Neo has graduated from the baby clothes section to the pre-school section and I was very proud of myself for getting a few t shirts for £1.50 each and shorts for £5.00 each.
Because of my regular shopping at Primark for Neo, myself and my family, I started to really question my role in the Bangladesh disaster. I know it is terribly simplistic of me but I could not help but wonder if the constant need for quality yet affordable clothes is the driving force behind Primark acquiring employment in a sub standard and unsafe building in Bangladesh that resulted in so many deaths? If you have ever seen the queues at the Primark changing rooms and pay points, you will know that demand for Primark clothes is not an issue. From locals like myself to tourists, it is where we all go for fashionable and reasonable clothes. In fact, it is doing so well, in 2012 Associated British Foods, the owner Primark reported that the high street store’s turnover rose 15pc to £3.5bn as the chain opened a string of new shops (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9657605/Primark-owner-profits-rise-as-new-shops-open.html).
How can I, as a consumer hold companies like Primark accountable and force them to be more responsible in their employment and appointment of their partners. More importantly, are my convictions strong enough for me to hold on to my money and make sure that when I do spend it on clothes, it is to a store I am happy to associate myself with no matter how cheap or not they are? In a time and age when it seems most clothes are made in Bangladesh, should we all just resign to the fact that t-shirts are £1.50 at Primark because they are made in Bangladesh in factories on the verge of collapsing?
What do you think?