Gallery: Walmart Fires Supplier That C...

Jazreen Fashions, Walmart, Bangladesh, workers rights, human rights, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, sweatshop labor, forced labor, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

Walmart has fired the supplier that subcontracted work to a Bangladesh garment factory where at least 112 people died in a deadly fire on Saturday. The world’s largest retailer said that Tazreen Fashions was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for the company, but the supplier, which the company declined to identify, continued to fan out work there “in direct violation of [its] policies” anyway, according to Walmart spokesman Kevin Gardner in a statement on Tuesday. “Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier,” he said. Despite the company’s eagerness to distance itself from the country’s worst industrial disaster in history, however, labor activists claim that Walmart is no less culpable.

PREVIOUSLY ON ECOUTERRE: Bangladesh Garment-Factory Fire Claims 112 Lives Because of Safety Issues

Jazreen Fashions, Walmart, Bangladesh, workers rights, human rights, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, sweatshop labor, forced labor, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

DEADLY BLAZE

“Walmart is supporting, is incentivizing, an industry strategy in Bangladesh: extreme low wages, non-existent regulation, brutal suppression of any attempt by workers to act collectively to improve wages and conditions,” Scott Nova, executive of the Workers Rights Consortium, a Washington, D.C.-based labor-rights monitoring group, told The Nation on Monday. “This factory is a product of that strategy that Walmart invites, supports, and perpetuates.”

Bangladesh’s garment industry, which is second only to China in terms of clothing exports, has a notoriously spotty fire-safety record. Since 2006, more than 500 Bangladeshi garment workers have perished in fires resulting from unsafe buildings, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of organizations in 15 European countries dedicated to improving working conditions in the global garment and sportswear industries.

Bangladesh’s garment industry, which is second only to China in terms of clothing exports, has a notoriously spotty fire-safety record.

Export data further indicates that Walmart is the second-largest buyer of garments from Bangladesh after H&M. In its 2012 Global Responsibility Report, the company said that “fire safety continues to be a key focus for brands and retailers sourcing from Bangladesh.” It also claimed to visit supplier factories, identifying those at “high risk for fire-safety hazards” and ending relationships with 49 factories in Bangladesh because of fire-safety issues in 2011.

A document posted on Tazreen Fashions’ website indicated that an “ethical sourcing” official for Walmart had flagged the factory in May 2011 for unspecified “violations and/or conditions which were deemed to be high risk.” It was downgraded to “medium risk” that August. Although the factory was due an inspection within a year, it remains unclear if it was ever conducted.

Labor-rights groups, including the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Labor Rights Forum have struggled to develop a fire-safety program to prevent future deaths in Bangladesh’s garment industry. In March, PVH Corp., which owns Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and IZOD, signed an agreement that includes independent inspections, public reporting, mandatory repairs and renovations, a central role for workers and unions in both oversight and implementation, supplier contracts with sufficient financing and adequate pricing, and a binding contract to make these commitments enforceable. Tchibo, a German retailer, signed on in September.

Other brands implicated in factory fires in the past, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, H&M, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Target, have also been invited to join the agreement, with mixed response.

“Unfortunately, Gap withdrew last month from fire-safety discussions and instead announced [its] own non-binding program, which lacks central elements of the fire-safety program signed by PVH and Tchibo,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director of International Labor Rights Forum. “We hope the tragic fire at Tazreen will serve as an urgent call to action for all major brands that rely on Bangladesh’s low wages to make a profit. Their voluntary and confidential monitoring programs have failed; now it is time to come together and make a contractual commitment to workers and to involve workers and their organizations in the solution.”

[Via Bloomberg Businessweek]

2 Responses to “Walmart Fires Supplier That Contracted Bangladesh Garment Factory”

  1. InternationalLaborRightsForum says:

    Statement by International Labor Rights Forum and Worker Rights Consortium:
    Apparel Brands Buying from Bangladesh Should Join the Independent Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement

    Walmart’s constant downward price pressure prevents factories from being able to afford necessary safety precautions and its own supply chain auditing has failed to protect workers from being killed in deadly fires.

    One factory producing Walmart’s Faded Glory clothing line, Tazreen Fashions, caught fire on November 24, 2012, killing 112 workers and injuring more than 200 workers in the deadliest factory fire ever in Bangladesh. According to Walmart, a supplier had subcontracted work to Tazreen Fashions without Walmart’s authorization. Regardless of whether Walmart acknowledges Tazreen as an approved supplier, Walmart is responsible for the safety of the workers making its clothing and should not abandon Tazreen and its employees following this disaster.
    Walmart must now provide full and fair compensation covering loss of future earnings as well as damages to the families of the dead as well as to the injured workers. In addition, to minimize the risk of future factory fires, Walmart should join the independent and comprehensive Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement with unions and labor rights groups that PVH (owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) and German retailer Tchibo have already signed onto. The program includes independent inspections, public reporting, mandatory repairs and renovations, a central role for workers and unions in both oversight and implementation, supplier contracts with sufficient financing and adequate pricing, and a binding contract to make these commitments enforceable.

  2. pahelabaishak says:

    Friday is the only weekend holiday in Bangladesh garments industry.But most of the garments industry will be open in EPZ,Chittagong on 07th December

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