However, I cannot let this news article go by without commenting on the irony of it. Primark has a well documented history of manufacturing their clothes in sweatshops that employ children working in dreadful circumstances. Of course Primark is by no means alone in this; you’d be hard pressed to find many high street stores that have histories much better. As a consumer it takes only a minimum amount of common sense to understand that if you are purchasing something for a ridiculously low price, someone, somewhere is being had.
I once had a conversation with a former work colleague who, like many people, had never really given child labour much thought. She was genuinely curious and asked me what the furore was all about. When I explained that children as young as 5 were forced to work 12 hour days in sadistic conditions, and subjected to all kinds of abuse, she actually said “I know it sounds terrible, but as long as its not my child having to do that, I really like Primark.” While you’ve got to give her points for honesty, anyone who can’t see the inhumanity of that sin we are all a part of has a drastically tunnel-visioned way of viewing life.
There are stamps for food being vegetarian friendly and gluten-free. We have a traffic light system to remind us not to consume too much fat. I want it made clear on every item purchased if it was made by an adult, in decent conditions and earning a fair living wage.
A spokesman for Primark said: "Primark is investigating this issue and is extremely concerned to hear this news and the company is taking urgent action to investigate this issue. The company cannot comment in detail on this complaint until its inquiries are complete, but the company apologises to the customer for any distress this must have caused. Primark will of course keep the customer informed about the progress and outcome of its inquiries."
I wouldn’t wish ill on any child. I would like readers of this story to take a moment to reflect that with only a small twist of fate Mr. Varley’s four day old son would be destined to grow up to stitch those shoes, not wear them.
UNICEF, on child labour
North Korea using forced child labour
Children sold into slavery to make chocolate