Primark will this morning defend itself from charity War on Want's claims that workers producing its clothes face growing poverty as a result of meagre pay.

Protesters from War on Want will this morning campaign outside Primark's flagship store in London's Oxford Street after the publication of its report, Fashion Victims II. Campaigners will then go into Primark's AGM to speak out against its “sweatshops”. But by 9am, only around 10 campaigners had turned up.

War on Want claims workers earn as little as 7p an hour for up to 80-hour weeks. It claims workers need£44.82 a month to give their family food, water, shelter, clothes, education, health care and transport. Yet their average pay is£19.16 a month, it claims.

In a statement, Primark said all the evidence shows that international trade, including in textiles, is to be welcomed as an invaluable source of income for poor nations. It said the garment industry is raising the living standards of workers in the supply chain by providing employment that would otherwise simply not be available.

It said: “Far from seeking to exploit these people, the British garment industry is trying its hardest to improve living standards in these countries. Primark specifically is an ethical organisation, is committed to ethical sourcing, and seeks to improve living standards in these countries.”

Primark added that it constantly reviews working conditions and audits are often unannounced and paid for by the retailer. It said it remains open to constructive engagements with campaigners and its customers can continue to shop in Primark secure in the knowledge that the company works hard to ensure that high standards are met.

The War on Want report also makes similar claims about pay and conditions for Dhaka employees making clothes for Asda and Tesco.

War on Want campaigns and policy director Ruth Tanner said: “Primark, Asda and Tesco promise a living wage for their garment makers. But workers are actually worse off than when we exposed their exploitation two years ago. The UK Government must bring in effective regulation to stop British companies profiting from abuse.”