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Metro`s Response to National Labor Committee's May 2009 report

May, 11 2009 Share

Click here to view the R.L. Denim/Bangladesh (Metro Group) campaign page

 

The following is the response issued by Metro Group on 11 May 2009 following the National Labor Committee's 1 May 2009 report alleging human rights violations at supplier RL Denim (part of Jeans Express Limited)

METRO Group focuses intensely on improving social and economic standards that apply to its business partners. A strict ban on child labour, forced labour and any form of exploitation is a fundamental component of METRO Group's purchasing conditions. For this reason, we work with our suppliers, particularly in emerging countries, in order to gain their commitment to compliance with fundamental standards. This is a permanent process that is reviewed during regular inspections.

METRO Group is very concerned about recent reports concerning the death of an 18-year-old worker at a supplier company in Bangladesh. We are deeply saddened by the young woman's passing. 

The supplier company in Bangladesh has not been complying with our high, binding social standards. This was the finding of an independent investigation commissioned in 2005 by procurement at METRO Group. Such investigations are a standard procedure at METRO Group and are conducted by the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI). The inquiry uncovered deficiencies that should have been eliminated by the supplier within a year's time. Normally, these corrections must be checked during a re-audit conducted 12 months later. Unfortunately, this re-audit was not carried out.

Following initial internal investigations of the incident, METRO Group acknowledges that this re-audit was not conducted in violation of our clear internal audit regulations. This is an unfortunate case of human failure.

Had the normal audit and information chain been applied, we would have learned earlier that the improvements ordered after the first audit had not been carried out. Under our regulations, this would have resulted in the immediate termination of the business relationship. 
In the aftermath of this entire incident, METRO Group has taken four immediate steps:

  1. The business relationship with the supplier will be immediately terminated.
  2. All of the supplier's products will be removed from all markets of METRO Group sales divisions.
  3. An investigative commission will immediately begin work to answer all questions associated with the incident. In particular, the commission will determine whether and to what extent working conditions in the factory were related to the worker's death. This team will include experienced employees from procurement, quality assurance and Group security.
  4. Internally, we will review how we can seamlessly link the inspection and information chain to the audit process.

As part of globalization, METRO Group actively strives to improve social and economic standards. We view such efforts as an important contribution to creating good standards of living and improving the quality of life in regions that have been mired in poverty up to now. 

METRO Group is one of the founding members of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI). The aim of the alliance of European trade and retail companies that was established in 2003 is to assure good working conditions along the entire production chain. A standard code of conduct and a corresponding inspection system apply to the suppliers of BSCI members around the world. The BSCI code of conduct is based on the standards laid down by the United Nations' International Labour Organisation (ILO). The fact that the first audit uncovered the deficiencies of the supplier in Bangladesh shows the system's effectiveness. But no system can be protected from human failure. 

The investigative team sent by METRO Group has been asked to issue a report by the end of May. We will promptly provide the public with detailed information when the results of our investigations are available.

Original Report