Response to ‘cry for help’ notes found in Penneys garments.

Clean Clothes Campaign responds to recent stories of ‘calls for help’ found in Penneys clothing.

Over the past week there have been reports of notes for help or messages stitched into clothing sold by Irish retailer Penneys purportedly from workers suffering inhumane conditions in the production of clothes for the retail giant.

Clean Clothes Campaign, in response to the stories says, “It is difficult to know whether these notes are genuine. However speculation on the origin of the messages should not distract from the known reality which is that the conditions described – in particular long hours, poverty pay and unsafe working conditions – are a fact of life for the majority of women and men producing clothes for high street brands including Primark.

“As our recent reports, Tailored Wages 2014 and Stitched Up – Eastern Europe Report clearly demonstrate inhumane conditions and wages that full far short of a living wage are endemic in the industry and can be found from clothing factories in Bangladesh to Bulgaria, Cambodia to Croatia.

“Penneys are not alone in sourcing from these factories and it is important that Penneys and all clothing brands take action and put an end to exploitative and inhumane purchasing practices and ensure the people who make their clothes are paid a living wage in decent working conditions.

“To pay a decent living wage would cost a brand like Primark just 50 cents more paid directly to a worker. As these stories have shown, cheap fashion at the expense of another persons dignity does not lie comfortably in the mind of consumers.”

Karachi fire – Initial payments made to victims



After much campaigning, finally in January 2013 KIK signed an agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) to make an initial payment to the victims and their families of US$ 1 million for immediate relief, and to negotiate a long term compensation package with all other involved stakeholders. The initial payment is to be used to compensate the families of those victims who have not received any government compensation as the bodies have not been identified due to the severity of the burns and the decomposition of the bodies. “KIK also expressed a willingness to compensate workers who faced severe injuries in the fire leading to disability and loss of future employment. The remaining workers will be assisted in the next step after a compensation amount is agreed upon through a consensus between all stakeholders including employers and other international companies,” added Karamat Ali.

Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator at CCC: ‘We welcome this agreement and look forward to having the full compensations and relief package, which we estimate will be at least EUR 20 million, to be negotiated soon. We continue our campaign towards other international stakeholders, notably auditing organisations SAI and Rina, to also take their responsibility and pay their share of the compensation needed.”

The National Trade Union Federation in Karachi state that although the high death toll at Ali Enterprises had led to extensive coverage of the fire, this is not an isolated incident but a regular occurrence in an industry that is poorly regulated and largely non unionised.

The fire  follows a pattern of negligence occurring not just in Pakistan but throughout the garment industry. Brand and retailers must therefore take more action to address the root causes of such disasters. Brands and retailers need to take responsibility for improving conditions, enforcing international labour standards and need to work with worker representatives to address safety issues in every country they source from if future tragedies are to be avoided.

Remembering Aminul Islam – A year after his murder

Aminu One Yearl

April 4th 2013 marks the year anniversary of Aminul Islam.

Last year Aminul Islam was brutally tortured and murdered as a direct result of his work to improve working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers.

This brutal torture and murder sent a direct message to those working in the industry of what their future would hold if they attempt to demand their basic human rights and challenge the unjust system.

The recent spate of factory fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan is a clear reminder of the daily struggle of garment works who make clothes for all our high street retailers.

Last year Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland launched an Urgent Appeal calling on the Bangladeshi government to properly investigate his murder, this was never done.

A year on, we remember the plight of Aminul whose life ended so tragically as a direct result of his humanity and good work. We continue to call on the Bangladesh Government to fully investigate his death and ensure the safety of trade unionists and garment workers.

Read more about his case on our website here, and here is a link to an article by the Solidarity Center of American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) 

Karachi Factory Fire Kills 325



The official death toll is now 262.  After initial reports, the Pakistani government has now put the death toll at 262.

September 11th 2012

325 garment workers die in horrific garment factory fire in Karachi, Pakistan. The fire which broke out on Tuesday evening 11th September, has killed over 325 garment workers with reports that the death toll is expected to rise.

Reports from Pakistan indicate that poor building safety was responsible for the large death toll and that government inspectors had not visited any factories in the industrial zone where the fire took place. Unconfirmed reports indicate that well known brands were producing in the factory and Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is awaiting documentary evidence of the same.

 This is once again, a stark reminder of the real cost of the fast and cheap, disposable fashion we have become accustomed to. 325 people have been reported dead but this is expected to rise over the next few days. In this case as with the many others that continue to happen within the garment supply chain,  these deaths could have been avoided. Emergency exits were absent or locked, and workers were trapped. This is the usual pattern. It is well known that many workplaces are unsafe, and that workers in key producing countries risk their lives on a daily basis producing clothes for Europe and the USA.

The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland have introduced the Urgent Appeals campaigns to highlight those issues that most urgently need the public’s attention. Cymehemricomp CCCI are focusing on three campaigns, Deadly Denim, Free Somyot and Justice for Aminul Islam all of which call for actions by members the public to show their support and solidarity for human rights defenders in garment producing countries. However it is incidents like this tragic and needless loss of life that highlights the true cost of the fashion industry’s drive for low prices and high volume and is another reminder of the constant battle workers face to garner their basic human rights.


October 15th 2012

Ali Enterprises was awarded an SA8000 certificate of compliance despite never having been legally registered and having failed to provide employment contracts.

The SA8000 is an internationally recognised certificate of compliance awarded to factories that reach certain acceptable standards in the workplace.

Social Accountability International, the governing body which overseas the registration of auditors and certifying bodies has suspended it’s work with Italian based RINA Group who were directly responsible for accrediting the factory.

Read SAI response here



September 14th 2012

Pakistani authorities this morning have charged the factory owner and managers with murder.




Send your letter to the Pakistani Ambassador to Ireland.

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