During the past eight months, 112 workers were killed in the Tazreen fire and then another 1,127 were killed in the Rana Plaza building collapse. And yet most US companies are refusing to pay compensation to the people who sewed their clothing in these factories. Forty companies, including Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, PVH (Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein), and SeanJohn have now joined together in the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, but meanwhile companies like Gap and Walmart have refused to join.
Get involved in the campaign: Sign the ILRF (International Labor Rights Forum) petition to Gap and Walmart and take action at a store near you. Also, check out the June 6 Senate hearing testimony by a Bangladeshi labor rights leader.
Saturday, June 29
Gap Store, 513 Broadway (between Spring St. & Broome St.)
Below is a letter from the International Labor Rights Forum:
Please join with us for a global day of action on June 29 to call on Gap and Walmart to protect garment workers.
The horrific catastrophes in Bangladesh of unparalleled scale exposed the systemic failures of the garment industry to ensure safety. With over 1,250 garment workers killed in the last eight months, the impact that corporate greed can have on human lives is astoundingly clear. The media spotlight and the outrage of workers and consumers have revealed that the global race for cheaper production is not only inhumane, it’s deadly.
Worker rights advocates have made historic gains now that 50 global apparel companies have signed the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, making a binding commitment to ensure workers’ rights and welfare. Five US companies have signed, but Gap and Walmart are leading the resistance among many US brands and retailers to fight the Accord and preserve their right to walk away from workers in danger.
There is no reason, short of shameless greed, that any company would refuse to sign the Accord. Under the Accord, the estimated cost of factory renovations for Walmart would be just two-tenths of 1% of the company’s profit last year, and just 1% of the dividends paid out last year to the Walton family heirs. For Gap, the costs represent, at most, 0.8% of the company’s profits last year, and just 1.5% of the net wealth of Gap’s founder Doris Fisher.
Over a million people have signed petitions (go to laborrights.org/safety to sign on) and with our allies we’ve mobilized hundreds to protest at stores, corporate offices, and shareholder meetings. But Gap and Walmart are refusing to legally commit to ensuring factory repairs get made to keep workers safe. Instead, they are using public relations tactics to undermine the Accord. After weeks of pressure, Gap and Walmart put out a press release that they are partnering to create a “safety plan.” The program details are vague and include no input from workers.
While Gap and Walmart sharpen their PR strategy, it’s time for us to take the campaign to a whole new level. Please join us for an International Day of Action to End Death Traps, with protests at Gap and Walmart stores across the US and abroad. Can we count on your help to make this really big?
Go here to find an event near you or log-in to add your own action to the calendar.
International Labor Rights Forum
PS. Today there was yet another fire at a garment factory supplying US companies with at least 10 people injured. The fire service official said the building was not adequately equipped with firefighting equipment. This is the latest reminder that real change can’t come soon enough.