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Blood on Gap Jeans: Alone Among Dozens of Firms, Gap Refuses to Sign Binding Agreement to Protect Bangladesh Factory Workers

Business  (tags: clothing retailers, comply, Bangladesh, working conditions, L Gerard, UnitedSteelworkers Pres, Gap, not responsible, factory fires, collapse, death toll, crushed workers' blood, Gap jeans, Avett Bros song, brotherhood, equality, Fall2012, ad campaign )

- 2119 days ago -
Gap -world's 3rd largest apparel co- refusal to join 38 other clothing retailers in protecting Bangladeshi workers, >1,200 of whom have recently died in factory fires & collapses, shows real hypocrisy of their ad campaign using AvettBros song, Live & Die


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Carole Sarcinello (338)
Friday May 31, 2013, 2:58 am

From the article:
"What Gap is saying is this: We don’t really want to take responsibility. We want to be able to slink away if safety costs are high or if we disagree with an inspector’s report."

Got that right. Thanks, Jill.


LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Friday May 31, 2013, 3:52 am
People killed in preventable factory fires and building collapses in the Bangladesh garment industry since 2005: 1,834 -- Gap: End DEATHTRAPS Now - JOIN THE MOVEMENT !
Sign our Petition and Learn How to Take Action at a Gap Store: “Do your part to end preventable murders of garment workers by signing the legally-binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh now.”

The posted article with all the links: Blood on Gap Jeans

Dozens of companies have signed an agreement to protect Bangladesh factory workers–but The Gap refuses.

By Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers President

"You and I, we’re the same.
Live and die, we’re the same.
Hear my voice, know my name,
you and I, we’re the same." ~ Avett Brothers, Live and Die

Although Gap, the world’s third largest apparel company, used that Avett Brothers song in commercials last fall, the corporation does not believe we’re really the same.

By refusing to join other clothing retailers in a binding agreement to protect Bangladeshi workers, more than 1,200 of whom have died in factory fires and collapses in recent months, Gap is saying: You and I, we’re not the same; I don’t hear your voice or want to know your name.

H&M and Inditex, both among the world’s largest apparel companies, and 36 other American and European firms signed the pact requiring them to finance rigorous safety inspections and repairs over five years. [You can see the current list of signers here]
They jointly took responsibility for trying to ensure safety and decency for workers in the factories sewing the clothes on which they profit. Because we are all the same and all deserve respect at work, Gap, Walmart and other major apparel firms must join them in fulfilling their ethical obligations. And at the same time, the European Union and United States must suspend Bangladesh’s duty-free access to Western markets until it increases its minimum wage and guarantees internationally recognized rights to workers.

Last month, the Rana Plaza building, housing several clothing factories, collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,127 workers in the most lethal disaster in garment manufacturing history. Five months earlier, 112 workers died in a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh, which trails only China in exporting clothing, with 5,000 factories employing millions of workers, mostly women and girls, earning the lowest minimum wage in the world: $37 a month.

Earlier fires and collapses killed hundreds of Bangladeshi workers, including a blaze 2&1/2 years ago that killed 29 workers in a factory where Gap labels were found.

The Rana catastrophe renewed efforts by IndustriALL, a union federation with 50 million members in 140 countries, and Uni Global Union, a worldwide federation of 20 million retail and service workers, to persuade clothiers that profit from Bangladeshi factories to take responsibility for the safety of the workers.

The horror of the Rana Plaza photos fresh in mind, the coalition succeeded in getting 38 retailers to sign the Joint Memorandum of Understanding on Fire and Building Safety.

But giants Gap and Walmart refused . They said they’d go it alone. In other words, don’t expect much from them. Gap, which owns the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores, promised $22 million in loans for repairs to the 78 Bangladeshi factories it uses. That is $22 million in loans – from a corporation that made $333 million in profits in the first three months of this year alone.

Gap objected to arbitration and legal liability in the Joint Memorandum. Gap suggested instead that the remedy for noncompliance be expulsion from the program.

What Gap is saying is this: We don’t really want to take responsibility. We want to be able to slink away if safety costs are high or if we disagree with an inspector’s report.

Gap contends it fears legal accountability, but American companies Abercrombie & Fitch and PVH, owner of Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Izod brands, signed.

This is Gap saying, yeah, they buy garments from Bangladeshi vendors, but Gap is not responsible for the blood of crushed workers on the clothes. That’s like the guy who buys a watch off the arm of a street hustler then claims he’s not responsible for receiving stolen property because it was the vendor, not him, who beat and robbed the watchmaker.

At first blush, Gap’s and Walmart’s promises sound decent. The problem is that they’re not binding and not transparent. They claim they’re going to do stuff, but the Joint Memorandum requires signatories to actually accomplish goals. In addition, the Joint Memorandum mandates public reporting. After a factory is inspected, the results are to be released.

Gap could inspect a sweatshop, find it unsafe, pocket the report and move its work to a different factory, maybe one a European retailer already paid to upgrade. That would leave the original workers still imperiled. And unaware.

Even if Gap, Walmart and other major retailers eventually sign on, not all of Bangladesh’s factories will be inspected and improved. So workers themselves must be empowered. They must be legally entitled to form unions so they can protect each other and stand up to reckless bosses.

One worker, who survived the Rana Plaza collapse, said she went into the building that day, even though she was fearful after seeing cracks. She did it because she couldn’t protect herself. When she told a boss she didn’t want to enter, he slapped her and ordered her to work. In other cases, workers died in fires because bosses locked doors and claimed those yelling fire were lying.

Just last week, CBS news visited the Monde Apparels factory in Bangladesh and found workers sewing boxer shorts for Walmart in a factory with missing fire extinguishers and exits blocked off by tall piles of boxes.

Last year, a Bangladeshi labor rights activist was tortured and murdered. The government has brought no one to justice. The government has also beaten, water cannoned and tear gassed garment workers demonstrating for better pay.

It should be the opposite. A government should represent its people, not the interests of foreign apparel retailers. Until the Bangladeshi government gives workers the right to organize and collectively bargain for decent wages and health and safety improvements, the EU and United States should suspend its special trade status.Link text

Bangladeshi, American and European workers are the same. We live and die together. When giant retailers shirk their responsibility to protect workers from unnecessary dangers, they are guilty of receiving bloody property.

Join United Students Against Sweatshops, the International Labor Rights Forum and consumer and human rights groups who demonstrated at the Gap shareholder meeting last week to demand Gap sign the Joint Memorandum of Understanding

People killed in preventable factory fires and building collapses in the Bangladesh garment industry since 2005: 1,834
Sign our Petition and Learn How to Take Action at a Gap Store: “Do your part to end preventable murders of garment workers by signing the legally-binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh now.”

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Friday May 31, 2013, 9:41 am

Thank you for adding this additional information, Jill.

Action taken and will post in groups.


Tim C (2420)
Friday May 31, 2013, 10:59 am

. (0)
Friday May 31, 2013, 4:36 pm
Great post. Thanks for sharing. The workers should have been better protected.

Angelika R (143)
Friday May 31, 2013, 5:10 pm
Thx, signed this as well. Check out their whitewashing comments forum site that they created shortly before their sharholder meeting (I posted the USAS petition on 22 May) here and leave a comment.

See how they lie-9 days ago the GAP lady Tanya wrote:
GapInc Mod Sara • 9 days ago

Hi Sara - thank you for your thoughtful comment. We are actively working toward an agreement, talking with others around the world to find a solution that works for all. We do want a legally binding, unambiguous agreement. We know our customers are watching this closely, and that they want quick action, and we are working around the clock, but we also believe in moving ahead thoughtfully and responsibly, making sure the details of the Accord are very clear. We want a viable, long-term solution - something the majority of American companies can sign onto. Please know that we care very much about worker safety, and in making sure they're protected for the long-term. Thank you for your thoughts here, and please keep checking the site for updates. Tanya, Gap Inc.

There has been NO FURTHER update or comment or anything from then since! Just tons of comments from customers and protesters.


Jelica R (144)
Friday May 31, 2013, 8:58 pm
Jill, you must read this article by Patrick Le Hyarick; Noire mondialisation ! I don't know why I got link to this article but I liked it even if I do not speak French and had to struggle with it. It is so fiercely written that even poor Google translate could not attenuate Le Hyarick's passion.

Kit B (276)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 7:48 am

Thanks for signing our petition. Now take the next step by dropping off a letter or organizing a rally at a Gap store near you.

This is what comes when the power of the worker from unions is stripped away. This is also a direct reflection of the greed that is seen in outsourcing. Get the crap made, no matter what happens to the workers, no matter that the wages and working conditions are reminiscent of a Dickson's novel.

Kit B (276)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 7:50 am

***Dickens' novel.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 8:05 am
My earlier post on US reaction to the appalling working conditions in Bangladesh was from the magazine The Nation, "California Congressman Asks: 'Which Fashion Brands Accept Blood on Their Labels?' "

and in the comments of that post, I linked to a very important NGO working in this area:
Institute for Global Labor & Human Rights Homepage

and their 2 donation pages, one posted as of May 7th : “The Stench of Death Is Everywhere”: Please Donate Now to Help Victims of Bangladesh Factory Collapse AND Bangladesh Injured Worker Relief Fund - Please Donate Now to Help Victims of Bangladesh Factory Collapse

I heard ' the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights' director, Charlie Kernaghan, on Democracy Now!, in the early days just after the collapse of Rana Plaza building.

Twyla Sparks (208)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 12:45 pm

Birgit W (160)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 2:48 pm

Christeen A (300)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 3:38 pm
Boycott the Gap.

Lois Jordan (63)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 6:09 pm
Petition signed. Noted. Many thanks, Lucy....will also boycott The Gap.

Jelica R (144)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 8:05 pm
I received an email from USAS:


It’s no surprise that brands like Gap and Walmart are still refusing to fix their deathtrap factories by signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh — after all, they’re the ringleaders of the failed approach to worker safety that led to over 1,100 deaths at Rana Plaza, and they’re deeply committed to keeping their public images clean through massive expenditures on public relations and lobbying instead of investment in meaningful factory safety.

The Children’s Place, on the other hand, has no excuse. This little-known brand, a New Jersey-based retailer of children’s apparel, has mostly flown under the radar since it was discovered that in the eight months leading up to the Rana Plaza industrial homicide, a factory in the building produced over 120,000 pounds of clothing for The Children’s Place.

Today, we’re launching a new website,, to demand that The Children’s Place pay compensation to the victims’ families and join the 41 other companies that have signed the Bangladesh Safety Accord. Sign our petition to the company now.

It’s long overdue for The Children’s Place to start to make amends to the thousands of children who were orphaned by the Rana Plaza collapse. We’ve tried repeatedly to communicate with the company to give them a chance to do the right thing, but they’ve ignored us. Apparently they’d rather put their heads in the sand and hope we don’t notice that they have the blood of hundreds of garment workers on their hands.

But we will never forget, and we will never go away until they do the right thing.

Sign the petition now at, then share the website with your family and friends to make sure they learn the truth about The Children’s Place.

Thanks for standing with Bangladeshi garment workers who are fighting to make sure this never happens again.

Karen Li"

Edith B (146)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 9:37 pm
Noted and signed, not surprised that Wal Mart refuses to sign on for safety of workers.

tiffany t (142)
Saturday June 1, 2013, 11:17 pm
noted and signed boycott these companies

Gloria picchetti (304)
Sunday June 2, 2013, 5:26 am
The seams on Gap jeans wrap around my legs like snakes after about four washings so I don't shop there anymore.

Linda h (86)
Thursday June 6, 2013, 10:06 am
Never go to Walmart and now I won't go to the Gap either until I know they've signed and are accountable. I have a place in NYC a short walk from the building where the Triangle Factory was located. People still come on the anniversary of the fire and chalk the names of the women and girls who died there because the doors were locked. After all these years we all should be able to do better than this. No excuses.

Jelica R (144)
Tuesday June 18, 2013, 5:54 pm
I had some problems with my Internet connection (in)stability for almost a month now, bit I hope it is still not to late to sign those petitions:

Green America: Clothing Brands: Do your part to make sure the Garment Factory Disaster in Bangladesh will be the last

Green America: Gap: Protect sweatshop workers’ lives

Going to Work: Tell Debenhams and GAP to back Bangladesh safety plan

LabourStart: Make garment factories in Bangladesh safe

Credo: Walmart & Other American Retailers: Ensure basic safety & human rights for workers in Bangladesh
Take Part: Tell Gap Inc. to Help End Disasters in Bangladesh Factories

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Monday July 18, 2016, 10:25 pm
July 18, 2016 Update from the Guardian - "Rana Plaza collapse: 38 charged with murder over garment factory disaster" - "Three defendants also charged for helping complex owner Sohel Rana flee after incident in which five garment factories fell in 2013, killing 1,135 people"
Excerpt: "Of the 41 people charged, 35, including Rana, appeared before the court and pleaded not guilty, Mannan told reporters. The other six are fugitives and will be tried in absentia.

If convicted, defendants could face the death penalty."

Amazing, that they're only coming to trial now, three years later!

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Monday July 18, 2016, 10:45 pm
The 'Mannan' quoted above is public prosecutor Abdul Mannan.
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