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Photo: CNN

Walmart, the third largest public corporation and mega retail chain in the world, has refused to sign an agreement with other retail chains that will improve safety and working conditions for factory workers overseas. Walmart wants to do safety their own way - as if that been working for them. Last month, over a thousand factory workers died (1,100 confirmed dead - death toll estimated to be 1300), after a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed. It was a tragic and very sad day for the world. And the horror dragged out for weeks for family members looking and hoping for some sign that their missing loved ones would be found alive beneath the tons of Rana Factory’s crashing concrete.

The new agreement Walmart was asked to sign covers:

“independent safety inspections with public reports, mandatory repairs, and renovations and a vital role for workers and their unions,” The Ethical Trading Initiative, which crafted the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh along with trade unions IndustriALL and UNI Global,writes. (These billion dollar companies who signed, would need only put in $500,000 per year to maintain these safety standards.)

“At the heart of the agreement is the commitment to Bangladesh’s Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety, and for companies to share in the responsibilities for providing a safe environment for workers.”

This seems reasonable, yes? No, not for Walmart. A statement from Walmart said:
“The company, like a number of other retailers (very few and poor excuse), is not in a position to sign the IndustriALL accord at this time (not in the position? Walmart is in the position to do anything they want).
Benetton, H&M, Zara, Next, and PVH (Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) are just some of the worldwide retail chains that have signed the safety agreement. The deadline for signing the pac has now passed.
While we agree (meaning, ‘we really don’t agree.’) with much of the proposal (only what’s beneficial us), the IndustriALL plan also introduces requirements, including governance and dispute resolution mechanisms, on supply chain matters that are appropriately left to retailers, suppliers and government, and are unnecessary to achieve fire and safety goals.” (No one tells us what to do)
Walmart wants to do it their way. It seems their way gives Walmart loopholes. The Guardian reports:
“the Walmart deal is not legally binding, does not require the company to offer financial support for fire and safety regulations or blacklist factories unwilling to comply.”
Common Dreams reports:
This, of course, is not the first time Walmart has refused to improve the well being of workers in factories.

In 2011, several major western retailers, lead by Walmart, rejected a proposal made by a group of Bangladeshi and international unions that proposed a way to make Bangladesh’s garment factories safer through establishing an independent inspectorate to oversee all factories in Bangladesh “with powers to shut down unsafe facilities as part of a legally binding contract signed by suppliers, customers and unions.”

At the time, Walmart’s representative said it was “not financially feasible … to make such investments.”

Not financially feasible? Does Walmart believe world is stupid?

Months before the Rana Factory collapse, on November 24, 2012 a fire in a Bangladesh clothing factory resulted in the death of 112 workers. When the fire alarm went off, bosses told employees to return to their stations and the exit door was locked to keep them from leaving. When it became clear there was a true emergency, there were no fire escapes or exists in the eight-story building, and many victims jumped to their deaths. Initially Walmart said it could not confirm that it had ever sourced apparel from the factory, however photos taken by Bangladeshi labor activists showed Walmart-branded clothing present in the factory after the fire, and it was later proven that Walmart did source the apparel. They lied.

Photo: Tumbler
It’s indeed shameful, disgusting and shocking the way Walmart has continuously ignored the safety and welfare of their employees not only in Bangladesh and overseas, but here in America. Wikipedia lists massive amounts of offenses on its Criticism Of Walmart page (highly recommended to read), and in the Employee and Labor Relations paragraph on Walmart’s main Wikepedia page.

I’m not sure what it’s going to take for Walmart to care enough about human lives, to change their ways. As it stand now, rather than having a slogan that says, “Save More – Live Better,” perhaps their logo should say, “Save More – Die Horribly.”

Correction: This diary has been corrected. 1,100 workers are confirmed dead. Rescue workers estimate the death toll to be closer to 1,300)

(Diary is also posted in Addicting

Originally posted to Leslie Salzillo on Thu May 16, 2013 at 01:31 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Income Inequality Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  criminally negligent homicide/anybody? (11+ / 0-)

    Monsanto is poison,gotta be stopped. Can't afford rich people anymore;must cut back. People like Dick Cheney are evil, don't belong in government. We need @ 9 different revolutions in this country, and may they all crossoverlap soon..

    by renzo capetti on Thu May 16, 2013 at 01:43:47 PM PDT

  •  "Feasible" Means No Cost and No Obligation nt (6+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 16, 2013 at 01:47:19 PM PDT

  •  There are two ways to fix this. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The grouch, Puddytat, Anne was here, quinn

    One is to pass laws making importation of such good illegal. The other is for American consumers to care about this issue enough to voluntarily pay a few bucks more for certain goods. The Walmarts of the world have a role to play. But economics will not allow for them to do it on their own - the majority of the people who buy the products have to be willing to pay the price.

    •  I like the first option (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye, The grouch, Puddytat

      Embargo all foreign-made goods that aren't manufactured to minimum wage, labor, health and safety, environmental, and energy efficiency standards that at least meet what American law requires.  Require foreign companies to submit to inspections to verify compliance if they want to be allowed to export things to us.

      •  A tariff or ban on stuff made in (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Puddytat, Visceral

        substandard working conditions would be the most effective way. But it also would be almost impossible to see getting done with this Congress. Actually, strike the word almost. It would be just plain ole impossible.

  •  I'm eternally grateful (6+ / 0-)

    to be employed (enough) again that I can finally afford to shop somewhere other than Wal Mart and Target. I gladly pay extra as often as I can.

    Many people, sadly, either continue to shop there or do without, because they simply cannot afford to pay extra. Before this most recent engagement, I tried my level best to do without as much as I could, but sometimes it's very difficult. In my case, one of those things is prescription medicine. Sometimes the difference in cost is double-digit and when you have very little, every dollar counts.

    "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

    by lunachickie on Thu May 16, 2013 at 02:03:00 PM PDT

    •  Continue to use them, then (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lunachickie, poco, renzo capetti

      for your prescriptions and prescriptions only.  They're not making much, if anything, on those items.  The low prescription prices are likely only there to lure folks into the stores and have them buy other things while they're there and if you don't "bite" the lure, you'll be saving money on presriptions while not adding to their profits.  

      Sounds like a win-win.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Thu May 16, 2013 at 03:26:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wasn't sure about that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Puddytat, renzo capetti

        but figured they considered their prescriptions a "loss leader" (as they say in retail). Good to know that for sure :)

        "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

        by lunachickie on Thu May 16, 2013 at 03:36:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Another winner, Leslie! (5+ / 0-)

    Keep up the great work!

    tip rec repub

    WE NEVER FORGET Aminul Islam, Bangladeshi Labor Martyr

    by JayRaye on Thu May 16, 2013 at 02:28:17 PM PDT

  •  I had to read one line twice. (6+ / 0-)

    When it read "it would only cost them 500,000 a year" to implement. The Walmart heirs have that much lost in their sofa cushions each year. The effect on their bottom line would be unnoticeable, and still they would rather have people die than do it. I am beyond disgust.

  •  Here's a new web site called (7+ / 0-)

    Really Walmart?

    Email from Silvia Fabela for Making Change at Walmart:

    Walmart's got a big ad campaign going these days they call "The Real Walmart" -- their idea is that all the negative press they receive because of the horrible working conditions, scandals, and abuses of various kinds aren't getting the "real" story out.

    They're wrong.

    As Barbara Andridge (Collins), a Walmart worker in Placerville, CA, put it to me about this campaign: "It turns my stomach. I don't want to see ads. I want to see Walmart provide decent wages, affordable health care and enough hours to feed my children. I want Walmart to stop retaliating against its workers who speak out for these things."

    So we're hitting back -- and shining a light on what's really going on -- with

    And we're launching a big push between now and Walmart's shareholder meeting in Bentonville next month to get as many people on board as possible -- we'll be delivering every petition signature we get directly to Walmart headquarters.

    Check out right now, and add your name to the petition calling for a living wage of at least $25,000 for every Walmart worker. Then pass it along to five friends so they can join this fight.

    WE NEVER FORGET Aminul Islam, Bangladeshi Labor Martyr

    by JayRaye on Thu May 16, 2013 at 02:48:44 PM PDT

  •  We're kidding ourselves if we think (5+ / 0-)

    WalMart actually cares about any of their workers.  At all.

    WalMart is drooling over the virtual slavery in other countries and is working hard to bring those conditions here.  They hate regulations because even in our lax regulatory climate here they keep getting caught doing things like locking cleaming staff inside their stores at night (caught when paramedics couldn't get inside to help a heart attack victim) or stealing workers wages to name just 2.

    They'd love to stop building safe stores or maintaining their buildings (shop at your own risk, folks) and chafe under local buiding codes and ordinences which require safe standards.  They hate paying even minimum wage and ensure that few of their employees get enough hours to qualify for benefits.   And, of course, they love having the "hardworking taxpayers" supplement their lousy wages and non-existent benefits with programs to help feed, clothe, and provide health care to their workers and their families.

    WalMart has been a POS place ever since Sam died and his evil offspring took over.  It used to be a place that sold American Made Products, a fact that Sam made sure every customers knew when they stepped inside and saw the banner proudly proclaiming that fact emblazzened with an American flag.

    We must continue to withhold our patronage and encourage others to do the same.   Money is the only thing these guys understand and withholding it might just change their minds about their horrible practices.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Thu May 16, 2013 at 03:36:33 PM PDT

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