Is Gap one of the worst corporations of 2013? The Public Eye Awards certainly thinks so. At a press conference during the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday, the Berne Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland bestowed the American apparel retailer with the dubious Jury Award for its “steadfast [refusal] to contribute to effective reforms in the textile industry.” Gap, which was nominated by the International Labor Rights Forum, SumOfUs, and United Students Against Sweatshops, tallied a total of 44,342 votes, ranking it just below Russia’s Gazprom, which received the ignoble People’s Award for violating federal safety and environmental regulations while drilling for oil in the Arctic Barents Sea.
PREVIOUSLY ON ECOUTERRE: Sweatshop Protestors Slam Gap, Walmart’s “Sham” Bangladesh Safety Plan
NAME AND SHAME
Gap became a target of labor groups after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh killed at least 1,129 garment workers last April. In response, more than 120 Western brands and retailers banded together to sign the legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
Gap became a target of labor groups after the deadly Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh last April.
Although it’s one of the top purchasers of clothing in Bangladesh, Gap was not among them. Instead, the company linked arms with 17 of its brethren, including Walmart, to propose an alternative plan, one that trade unions and labor advocates have largely denounced as a “corporate-controlled sham agreement.”
“Gap deserves this award,” Liana Foxvog, director of organizing and communications at the International Labor Rights Forum, said in a statement. “The company portrays a public image of being a leader in responsibility while actively undermining real corporate responsibility. Instead of joining the cccord, Gap created together with Walmart the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Despite sounding promising, this initiative is not legally binding and includes no union involvement, making it hardly more than a PR stunt to dodge safety responsibility.”