Bangladesh factory that sews garments for The Gap and Old Navy brands routinely
forces workers to work over 100 hours a week and they are slapped, shoved and
punched, says a damning report.
says workers live in penury, earning 20 to 24 cents an hour, and illegal
firings are regular.
report titled “Gap and Old Navy in Bangladesh: cheating
the poorest workers in the world” was released Thursday by Pittsburgh-based
Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.
Kernaghan, director of the institute, said in the report “these abuses have
been going on for more than two and a half years.”
Wilkinson, a spokesperson for Gap Inc., said the factory in question has been
audited for working conditions and “allegations (in the report) don’t align
with the audit and worker interviews.”
said the company received the report Thursday and is investigating. “If true,
these allegations are in direct violation of Gap’s contract with this vendor,”
consequence could be termination of Gap’s business relationship with the
factory, she added.
68-page report focuses solely on the Next Collections factory in Ashulia, a
thriving suburb of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city. The factory employs 3,750
workers and 70 per cent of its production is for The Gap and Old Navy.
Collections factory is part of the Ha-Meem Group, Bangladesh’s second largest
garment exporter, which owns over 25 factories and employs about 30,000
report contains damning allegations about the treatment of pregnant workers.
to the report, some pregnant workers are illegally fired and are also denied
their legal paid maternity leave; others are made to work even harder.
shocking case, pregnant worker Morium Begum lost her baby, the report says.
Begum, 20, was exhausted and sick but factory managers forced her to work over
100 hours a week and she lost her baby in the seventh month of pregnancy.
working on Old Navy jeans, said the report.
another case, Taniya Begum was forced to resign and denied maternity leave and
benefits. The report says Next Collections threatened her with jail and death
because she asked for paid maternity.
shocking report comes after 1,129 garment factory workers, mostly women, died
in the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar, an industrial suburb of Dhaka, on April
believed to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history.
said in almost 30 years of interviewing labour forces in the developing world,
he and his colleagues had never seen workers who looked so spent.
were exhausted, skinny, dazed and with deep shadows under their bloodshot
eyes,” he said.
Inc. audited working conditions, hours and wages at Next Collections, “we urge
Gap to release its audit reports,” Kernaghan said.
said the factory was part of an audit earlier this year. It included off-site
interviews with about 50 workers.
wouldn’t say what exactly was in that audit, except that it did not align with
the report released today.
“cares deeply about health and safety of workers in the supply chain,” said
Wilkinson, adding that the company monitors working conditions in factories.
said the company conducts announced and unannounced audits. In 2011, it did 618
unannounced and 590 announced audits. In 2012, there were 563 unannounced and
585 announced ones.
violations are discovered, the company works with factory management on plans,
and then “follow up with meetings and inspections,” she said.
posted a Social and Environmental responsibilityreport in 2011/2013where it acknowledged challenges
in Bangladesh factories, including building, fire safety and human rights.
company sources garments from 70 factories in that country.
are forced to work up to 17-hour shifts, seven days a week.
are consequences if workers arrive late or leave early, even if by a minute.
Managers are handed fake pay slips to pretend Gap is in compliance with legal
hours and wages.
are paid in cash, off the books and cheated of 15 per cent of their overtime
live in primitive hovels; some can’t even afford beds.
• If helpers make mistakes, they
are humiliated and forced to stand in front of the sewing line.