As the number of retail companies signing up to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord continues to grow, the garment workers of Bangladesh have been given a slap in the face by Walmart and GAP.
Not content with snubbing the Accord, they have now produced a code of their own where they will act as judge and jury. Walmart, which has suffered further dents to its tarnished reputation this week with fines and class action suits brought against it, has taken GAP with it along the low road. Shoppers everywhere will be angered that Walmart and GAP are making a concerted effort to misrepresent and undermine the Accord by conspiring to produce their own code, on their terms, in a sorry public relations exercise as they run for cover.
More than forty global companies have shown their commitment to staying in Bangladesh and investing to improve factory safety in the Bangladeshi garment industry, under the Accord. IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, along with their NGO partners, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium, deplore Walmart and Gap’s tactics. The household global names who have signed the Bangladesh Safety Deal have shown leadership in a combined effort to avoid a repeat of the Rana Plaza tragedy which claimed more 1,100 lives, mostly female workers. Walmart and Gap should follow suit and sign immediately.
IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, Jyrki Raina said:
Yet another U.S retailer, Sean John, has today signed the global Accord and companies from all around the world are ready to join this growing group. The kind of voluntary initiative being put forward by Walmart and Gap has failed in the past and will again fail to protect Bangladeshi garment workers. Walmart has cynically refused to pay compensation to the Tazreen factory fire victims and is now undermining the constructive efforts of other companies.
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings said:
Walmart and GAP are revisiting the errors of the past. They are out of step with the public mood. They are ignoring shoppers and letting down Bangladeshi garment workers. Walmart and GAP are blind to the new retail reality that shoppers will not tolerate inhumane factory conditions. How high does the body count have to go for them to do the right thing?
The companies which have already signed up to the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Building Accord are:
Abercrombie & Fitch
El Corte Inglés
Marks and Spencer