Page last updated at 22:08 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 23:08 UK

Models stage 'sweatshop' protest

No Sweat protest (c) Al Overdrive

Models dressed in chains paraded along a makeshift catwalk in London's Oxford Street as part of a demonstration against sweatshop labour.

Campaign group No Sweat staged the protest outside Primark's flagship store urging "decent working conditions and a living wage" for garment workers.

A Primark spokeswoman insisted: "We obviously share and recognise many of the concerns raised."

It says it fired suppliers whom the BBC's Panorama found used child labour.

'Huge profits'

But Mick Duncan, the secretary of No Sweat, said this was not good enough.

No Sweat protest (c) Al Overdrive
The protesters said they wanted chains to "take responsibility"

He said: "We don't want them to walk away - we want them to take responsibility for their workers and make sure their conditions are improved.

"No Sweat isn't calling on consumers to boycott chains like Primark, but instead to put pressure on them to clean up their act.

"These companies make huge profits and have a duty to ensure a fair wage."

The protest was backed by comedian Mark Thomas, who said it was in the interest of British workers to campaign for better treatment for their counterparts overseas.

"If workers abroad are being badly exploited, that means that the conditions of workers in the UK are also being undercut.

"It's about raising the standard for everyone."

But a Primark spokeswoman said the company had insisted that many factories improved their labour standards, and created senior management posts for an ethical trade manager and an ethical trade executive.

She said: "Ethical business practices are at the top of Primark's agenda and the company works tirelessly to ensure its many suppliers, including those in Bangladesh, conform to the highest standards of behaviour.

Preview: Panorama

"Primark works very hard to continually improve ethical standards and working conditions among suppliers."

Primark currently has more than 170 stores and made a £200m profit last year on total sales of more than £1.6bn.

Last year, Primark fired three Indian suppliers after a six-month BBC Panorama investigation found the suppliers had used child labour to carry out embroidery and sequin work.

A subsequent BBC undercover investigation found factory workers making clothes destined for fashion chain Primark who worked up to 12 hours a day for £3.50 an hour in Manchester.

Update July 2011: The BBC Trust has upheld a complaint from Primark about the Panorama programme.

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