Bangla Mirror Desk:: Primark has organised a press conference on their ongoing work in Bangladesh and
its response to Rana Plaza tragedy. The press conference was held in Bombay
Restaurant in West London on 19 January. The Press briefing was conducted by the
Ethical Trading Director of Primark Katherine Stewart and chaired by Paul Lister,
Director of Legal Services and Company Secretary of Associated British Foods, who
is also responsible for corporate governance and ethics across ABF companies,
heading up the Primark Ethical Trading Team of 55. Mohammed Ismail, the Ethical
Trade Manager of Primark was also present in the meeting.
The written press release which read that read Primark has been sourcing out of
Bangladesh for some twenty years. Today, Primark have around 80 factories
making a range of garments for it. All suppliers who want to work for Primark
have to meet our ethical trading requirements and have to sign up to the
Primark Code of Conduct. Every supplier has to pass an audit before we will
place orders with them. Once a supplier contracts with Primark, we put in
place a programme of regular audits and we expect to be in close contact with
them. In many cases, we also put in place training programmes for factory
management and for the workers.
This work is undertaken by the Primark Ethical Trading Team in Bangladesh,
which currently numbers 9 (the global team is around 50). Their job is to
monitor standards in factories, identify issues, work with suppliers to resolve
issues and to provide the training. They also work with the local communities
where factories are based. To do this effectively, they have built up
relationships with a wide range of groups in Bangladesh. This includes NGOs,
charities and unions such as Sheva and GIZ.
At the time of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, Primark was sourcing trousers
from the New Wave Bottoms factory which was on the second floor of the
Rana Plaza factory. The factory had undergone all the standard ethical checks,
but at the time, this did not include structural surveys to check the soundness
of the building. Much of the focus at the time was on fire prevention, following
a number of fatal factory fires in Bangladesh.
The collapse and immediate aftermath
All of us at Associated British Foods and Primark were shocked and deeply
saddened when the Rana Plaza building, near Dhaka in Bangladesh, collapsed
on 24th April 2013, killing 1,138 people. The building housed several factories,
including New Wave Bottoms.
Primark was the first brand, as far as we are aware, to acknowledge it had a
supplier in the Rana Plaza building and to pledge that it would meet its
responsibilities to the people affected by the disaster. Primark’s supplier was
one factory among many in the huge building, which supplied clothing to 28
In total Primark has committed $14m to the victims of Rana Plaza. This has
included $2 million in providing food and short-term financial support.
Immediately after the collapse of the building, the Primark Ethical Trade
Director flew out to Bangladesh to do a report to see what was needed and
how Primark could support the New Wave Bottoms workers. Her remit was to
do whatever she felt was the right thing to do. 2