[Bangladeshi police officials stand guard outside burnt garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka (AP Photo/ khurshed Rinku)]
At a meeting in April 2011, more than a dozen retailers including Wal-Mart, Gap, Target and JC Penney met in Dhaka to discuss safety at their supplier Bangladeshi garment factories. Bloomberg Newsrevealed minutes from this meeting Wednesday, which show that Wal-Mart nixed a plan that would require retailers to pay their suppliers enough to cover safety improvements.
Last month, a fire in a factory used by Wal-Mart killed 112 workers. There were no fire exits. Despite the fact that more than 700 Bangladeshi garment workers have died since 2005, Wal-Mart and Gap refused last year to pay higher costs for safety. Bloomberg cited comments from a document produced by Wal-mart’s director of ethical sourcing and a Gap official for the Dhaka meeting. It stated:
“Specifically to the issue of any corrections on electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500 factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories. It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”
Scott Nova, the executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, commented on Bloomberg’s revelations to Josh Eidelson for the Nation. “No company that is unwilling to pay [factories] enough to make it possible for them to operate safely can claim to be interested in any way in the rights or safety of workers,” said Nova. He described Wal-Mart’s position in the Dhaka discussions as “1) We know these factories are unsafe. 2) We know it will cost substantial sums to make them safe. 3) We are not going to pay for this. 4) We are going to keep using the factories anyway.” Continue reading →
Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has acknowledged hiring children as young as 14 in a Chinese factory. An internal investigation, following allegations from labor rights groups in China, found teenagers younger than the legal working age of 16 at a plant in Yantai, in northeastern Shandong province.
“This is not only a violation of China’s labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions,”a Foxconn statement announced according to Reuters. The 56 underage interns found will now be sent back to their schools.
This is not the first labor scandal for Foxconn, Apple Inc.’s largest manufacturer. In Northern China September a riot broke out at a Foxconn plant assembling iPhones over living conditions at the factory’s on-site dormitories. Foxconn were forced to improve working conditions at a number of their Chinese iPhone and iPad plants following numerous reports of labor abuses and the suicide of 14 Foxconn factory workers in China in 2010.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFP: Foxconn admits employing underage interns in China
By Benjamin Yeh, Agence France-Presse
October 17, 2012
Taiwan’s Foxconn has admitted employing children as young as 14 on assembly lines at a plant in China, a fresh blow to the tech giant that has been attacked over its treatment of staff after several suicides.
The company, which makes products for Apple and Sony, admitted it hired the underage workers as part of an internship programme, reflecting a practice rights groups said is widespread among enterprises in China. Continue reading →