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Walmart Accepted Clothing from Banned Bangladesh Factories

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When Mars was manufacturing clothing for Walmart brands, its factory was regularly audited by the company, Ahmed said. Walmart rates its suppliers green, yellow, orange and red, with green being the best and red the worst, he said. “We never received a rating below yellow.”

Since 2008, Ahmed said he has passed all audits by Fruit of the Loom, which uses theWorldwide Responsible Accredited Production program to inspect factories. Walmart said Mars didn’t meet all of its criteria, which it said is more stringent than WRAP’s. Ahmed said he welcomed Walmart to look at his factory and that the company is in the process of building a state-of-the-art facility.

Walmart accounts for a “very large” percentage of Mars’ business, Ahmed said. “If Walmart were to tell us they’re stopping production, if that were to happen, we would be destroyed. Our workers would be destroyed. We haven’t had a single incident in 19 years. We never had a problem. So that would be catastrophe.”

The other banned garment maker in the recent customs records, Simco Dresses, was blacklisted in January. The Import Genius records show three shipments of girls’ dresses in February and March to the Isfel Co. destined for Walmart Canada. Isfel didn’t return a call.

Customs records provided by another trade research firm PIERS show four more March shipments of knitted dresses and rompers, also destined for Walmart Canada.

The Bangladeshi press reported in January that Walmart had refused a shipment of women’s shorts from Simco after discovering unauthorized subcontracting to Tazreen Fashion, where a fire killed 117 people last year. Simco said at the time that Walmart’s ban could drive it into bankruptcy.

Simco’s managing director Muzaffar Siddique said his firm had subcontracted an order to an authorized Walmart supplier, which then sent the work to Tazreen without its knowledge.

Asked about the February and March shipments from Simco, Walmart spokesman Gardner said, “If it isn’t an egregious matter, we will accept goods produced under existing orders as part of our efforts to mitigate impact on the workers.”

Siddique contended that Walmart’s listing of his company is unfair and is damaging his family’s business. After the list was published, he said J.C. Penney canceled a $300,000 order for 500,000 pairs of pajamas.

“We are very upset about it,” Siddique said. “When I do business with you, it is like a doctor-patient relationship; there should be confidentiality. Walmart has no business going about publishing people’s names that it thinks are bad because that jeopardizes other business we are doing with our customers.”

Walmart is the only U.S. retailer to release a list of barred factories in Bangladesh. Gap, which also has a large presence in Bangladesh, said in a May statement that it has committed up to $22 million for factory improvements and that its stepped-up inspections have already led to some vendors upgrading their plants. But the company has said it would not sign on to the accord because of a provision that could allow victims of future factory accidents to sue the companies in U.S. courts.

Walmart, Gap and other large retailers are moving forward with developing analternative safety plan with the help of former U.S. Sens. George Mitchell, D-Maine, and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

“We are committed to Bangladesh,” Gardner said. “We understand the role that we play in improving the livelihood of factory workers in that country. And improving the safety of those workers is very important to us.”

But Walmart’s approach of naming factories as “red-failed/unauthorized” has led to criticism in the Bangladeshi garment community that Walmart is trying to shift blame rather than serve as a partner.

“What Wal-Mart is doing at the moment is nothing but saving its own skin,” Reaz Bin Mahmood of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association told Reuters. “As a responsible business partner they should stay with us and help improve working conditions for the safety and security of workers.”

This post was originally published at Propublica.

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6:16AM PDT on Jun 22, 2013

Shit holes...

5:20AM PDT on Jun 22, 2013


12:36PM PDT on Jun 21, 2013

Dispicable. About 95% of my clothes are from charity shops and I think that I will keep it that way. At least I know that my money is going to a better cause

1:28PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

For those looking for US made goods there are several sites that list US companies that actually manufacture here in the US.

are just a few sites that list USA made goods.

1:25PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

Of course they did and Americans bought them. Old Walt is rolling over in his grave at what HIS DREAM has become.

10:09PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

Thanks for the info

10:58AM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

Thank you.

9:25AM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

Really!? Someone trusted Walmart at their word? Come on? It's like the government, if a statement is being made it will be the truth only by accident and less than 1% of the time. Our economic/political systems are set up based upon lies that ensure that lies have to be the norm. There are few sections of the government that I trust and no corporation or industry.

7:24PM PDT on Jun 18, 2013

We need a solid textile industry in the U.S. asap that makes affordable clothes and gives fair treatment to workers. I would like to replace my wardrobe with all U.S.-made clothing, but I don't know where to shop for any affordable stuff like that. The last time I did an emergency shop for work clothes, I had to use a giftcard from Kohl's, and I couldn't find anything there that didn't come from some other country where I had to wonder if the workers were being treated fairly there.

2:17PM PDT on Jun 18, 2013

Walmart sucks, and not only for this!

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