News / Asia

Australian Retailer Promises Building Safety Checks in Bangladesh

Women work at Goldtex Limited garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar, April 11, 2013.
Women work at Goldtex Limited garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar, April 11, 2013.
Phil Mercer
— Australian retail giant Kmart has reviewed its commercial ties with Bangladesh following this year’s factory collapse tragedy that killed more than 1,000 garment workers.  The company has now started building safety checks and has pledged a zero tolerance for sweatshop conditions or slave labor.

Kmart runs a chain of about 170 discount clothes and multi-purpose stores across Australia and more than a dozen in New Zealand. It is independent from the American retail giant of the same name.

The company has developed close ties with garment manufacturers in Bangladesh that produce clothing and other goods for its stores. While it did not receive any clothing from the eight-story factory that collapsed in the capital, Dhaka, in April, Kmart has been under pressure from human rights groups and consumers to severe its relationship with unscrupulous operators who put workers in danger.

Kmart Australia's managing director, Guy Russo, says the retailer will not be abandoning Bangladesh, but after the Rana Plaza collapse, it is insisting it will not tolerate unsafe buildings, or work practices.

A rescue worker attempts to find survivors from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, April 30, 2013.A rescue worker attempts to find survivors from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, April 30, 2013.
x
A rescue worker attempts to find survivors from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, April 30, 2013.
A rescue worker attempts to find survivors from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, April 30, 2013.
Russo concedes it took the Dhaka tragedy for his company to make structural building checks standard practice.

“To be quite honest, the thing that we weren't checking in our audits was building safety. I mean, we were doing all the other safety checks in regards to employment mainly," he said. "We refuse to do business with anybody that even considers to try to have a sweatshop or underage employees.  But the one thing that we weren't doing were building checks and after this building had collapsed, I mean it touched me as much as it did every other Australian that has seen this terrible disaster. And, you know, I'm being honest, my team did not check buildings.”

Bangladeshi workers employed to produce garments for other western companies have often complained of long hours, poor wages and threats of intimidation if orders are not completed on time.

Some local factory owners have claimed that foreign retailers drive such a hard bargain over prices they cannot afford to ensure their buildings are safe.

However, newspaper reports suggest that some manufacturers have ignored advice to shut down unsafe garment plants, potentially putting thousands of lives at risk.

Last month, the charity Oxfam urged Australian clothing stores to sign an international agreement guaranteeing safer conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid