European Retailers respond to prison-like conditions at Bangladeshi Supplier

March, 14 2012 Share

The Sun, the UK's largest newspaper, and the Daily Mail expose sweatshop retailers.

"‘Jail' where humiliated, beaten staff stitch gear for BHS on 10p [16 cents] per hour" 
The Sun
. March 14, 2012

"BHS Knitwear is made by ‘beaten and humiliated Bangladeshi sweatshop workers who are paid 10 p an hour'" Daily Mail. March 14, 2012 


High End European Retailers are at a Turning Point.  Will they take the High Road, or the Low Road?:

It is time to get real.  For years, retailers have trotted out fine sounding Codes of Conduct-guaranteeing enforcement of all local labor laws as well as the core ILO worker rights standards-but they have never been implemented in the developing world, not even once.

If the posh retailers can tackle the miserable sweatshop abuse at the Chinese-owned sweater factories, Rosita and Megatex in Bangladesh, this could represent a major step forward.


There is Some Hope.  Retailers Respond: 

  • BHS/Arcadia Group - United Kingdom

A BHS/Arcadia Group spokeswoman told The Sun newspaper "We are investigating urgently with the supplier who has used one of these factories for BHS production...It appears that there have been a number of violations of our code."

  • Dressmann / Varner Group - Norway

On March 9, the Institute received a written statement from Varner Group's head of Corporate Social Responsibility:

We are truly disturbed to hear about this matter and we thank you for bringing this to our attention. We can assure you that we wish to work together to resolve this situation. Bringing the factories into compliance with Bangladeshi Labor Law and ILO conventions, and assuring the workers safe and good working conditions is our priority. We agree with your approach to appoint an independent ombudsman and meet together will all involved parties to find long term solutions. We are now starting an internal process to understand how this situation could occur without our knowledge. We will get back to you as soon as we have gathered some more information.  We stay at your disposal.

  • De Bijenkorf - The Netherlands

In March 9 phone statement, de Bijenkorf Department Stores Corporate Monitoring Manager:

We are really shocked by what is described in the [Institute's] report and want you to know that we are taking this seriously.  This is not what our company stands for.  We are investigating now, and speaking with our suppliers... We will continue our investigation until we get to the bottom of this.

The Netherlands' Ambassador to the United States also contacted the Institute.


What Must Be Done: 

The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights feels very strongly that the only way to end the illegal and brutal sweatshop conditions at the Rosita and Megatex factories is for representatives of the labels to meet together in Bangladesh with the workers, the Institute, factory management and the Ministry of Labor.

We will demand that the representatives of the labels have the opportunity to meet with the workers in a safe location-where they will not need to fear being beaten, fired, blacklisted or retaliated against in any way.

No one wants the factories to shut down, which would only further hurt the workers.   Our goal should be to finally guarantee full respect and compliance with Bangladesh's labor laws and the ILO's core internationally recognized worker rights standards-including the right to organize and to bargain collectively-at Rosita and Megatex.

If the European labels can achieve this, it will certainly be a major step forward in ending the race to the bottom in the global economy.



[Campaign] Chinese Sweatshop in Bangladesh