End Gap & Walmart Death Trap Factories: Safe Workplaces for All
Event ends: April 26, 2013 11:00 am
SPONSORS: Corporate Action Network, International Labor Rights Forum, Making Change at Walmart, SumOfUs, SweatFree Communities, United Students Against Sweatshops, and Warehouse Workers United
MORE INFO: Tour events are posted on Corporate Action Network at http://bit.ly/EndDeathTrapsTour. Please contact Liana Foxvog at email@example.com or 413-586-0974 with questions or to schedule interviews.
THE ISSUE: For more than a decade, Gap, Walmart and other major brands have produced clothes in Bangladesh factories that they know are fire traps. As a result, since 2006, over 600 apparel workers, mostly young women, have died in what could have been preventable factory fires. Now, two major apparel makers—PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and the large German retailer, Tchibo—have signed a legally-binding fire safety agreement that calls for independent fire inspections of all of the Bangladesh factories they use and requires them to pay for the necessary measures to make these factories safe, and to give their workers a say in how to accomplish this. Gap and Walmart have refused to join that agreement and Walmart continues to obstruct efforts to achieve fire safety in the factories it uses in Bangladesh as reported in The New York Times on December 5, 2012 (“Documents Indicate Walmart Blocked Safety Push in Bangladesh”). It’s time for Gap and Walmart to address their history of deadly negligence and take responsibility for workers’ safety before one more avoidable tragedy occurs.
- Demand that Gap and Walmart join the legally-binding fire safety agreement already signed by PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and German retailer Tchibo requiring independent fire inspections, workers’ voice in fire safety measures, and making retailers financially responsible for the necessary measures to prevent factory fires which have killed over 600 workers since 2006.
- Demand that Walmart pay the compensation it owes to families of the workers killed in the Tazreen fire and to injured workers.
- Nonviolent direct actions at prominent Walmart and Gap stores o Delegation to Walmart and Gap headquarters
- Talks at universities in support of student activism urging university affiliation with the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization
- Meetings with state government policy makers to encourage the adoption of sweatfree procurement policies and membership in the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium
- Meetings with federal government to ask lawmakers to call on US companies to adopt binding fire safety agreements
Sumi Abedin is a Bangladeshi garment worker who survived the November 24, 2012, fire that killed 112 workers at Tazreen Fashions, a factory that supplied Walmart, Disney, Sears, SeanJohn, and Dickies, and produced US Marines logo apparel for Delta Apparel / Soffe. Sumi was working on the 4th floor of the factory at the time of the fire and survived after jumping from the burning building.
Kalpona Akter is the executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), one of Bangladesh’s most prominent labor rights advocacy organizations, and is herself a former child garment worker. BCWS is regarded by the international labor rights movement and by multinational apparel companies as among the most effective grassroots labor organizations in the country. Levi Strauss & Co. calls BCWS “a globally respected labor rights organization, which has played a vital role in documenting and working to remedy labor violations in the apparel industry in Bangladesh.” Kalpona is an internationally-recognized labor rights advocate and has travelled widely to speak about the deplorable conditions that Bangladesh garment workers face every day. She was interviewed extensively by local and international media following the deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012.
New York Times, December 28, 2012, “As Walmart Makes Safety Vows, It’s Seen as Obstacle to Change”:
“The Walmart system of audits and inspections is not improving the factory safety conditions here in Bangladesh,” said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity. “They maintain this system to enable them to keep their hands clean and deny responsibility.”
Washington Post, March 1, 2013, “A Flurry of Fires in Bangladesh Raise Concerns over Garment-Worker Safety”:
“We expected big changes, and very quickly, but the reality is that nothing meaningful has happened,” says Kalpona Akter, a Bangladeshi labor leader and former child factory worker. “So far the government and foreign companies are all talk, no results; the unnecessary deaths continue.”