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Last Updated: Tuesday January 13 2009 18:50 GMT

Primark linked to UK sweatshops

Primark shop sign

The real cost of cheap fashion is under the spotlight as factory workers making clothes to supply Primark shops have been found working in awful conditions.

A BBC investigation found a factory in Manchester where people are being forced to work in cold and cramped surroundings for not very much money.

Although the law says they should be paid at least 5.73 an hour for their work, they've only been getting 3.50.

But TNS Knitwear, which runs the factory, denies the claims.

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Fashion chain Primark, which is best known for its cheap clothing, says it's "extremely concerned" about the findings and is carrying out its own investigation into what's been going on.

A BBC undercover reporter who got a job at the factory said it was cramped and unsafe, with boxes blocking corridors and toilets, and in some areas it was so cold staff were working with their coats on.

She said lots of people told her they worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and some of them even admitted working illegally as they don't have permission to work in the UK.

Child labour

Last year, another BBC investigation found kids in India were making clothes for another company that supplies Primark.

The TNS Knitwear factory in Manchester
What's shocked people about THIS investigation though is that the sweatshops are in the UK.

Neil Kearney from the International Textile Worker's Federation, which looks after workers' rights, says the findings are a "total scandal".

"There's no such thing as cheap clothing," he said. "Somebody has to pay and in this case it's the workers in Manchester."

Apology

Until Monday, Primark had posters in its shop windows saying it believed in ethical trading, but now they've been told to take them down.

It says its clothes should be made in safe and hygienic conditions and has apologised for any harm and distress that's been caused to the workers in Manchester.