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Clean Clothes Campaign / Verdi Union Press Release

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Translation:

Public Pressure Wakes Metro Up

Metro Group agrees to return to RL Denim in Bangladesh.
Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and Ver.di: "Mission accomplished" --  A civil society success

During a meeting of the CCC [Clean Clothes Campaign] and Verdi with representatives of the Metro Group  yesterday,  Thursday, Metro executive Frans Muller announced that Metro would again place orders in the R.L. Denim factory in Chittagong, Bangladesh.  Metro had "eliminated" the supplier relationship (Chief executive Cordes at the investors meeting on May 13, 2009), after important worker rights violations became known.  An international group including CCC, Verdi and the Supermarket Initiative in Germany, representatives of the German government, NLC [National Labor Committee] and the Steelworkers union in the USA, Unite—the-Union in the UK, unions and NGOs from Bangladesh and many others had declared in letters to Metro that the withdrawal of the company from the factory was not acceptable.  Metro should instead face its responsibility and take care of labor rights in the factory, which has worked for Metro since 2003.

An NLC study in early May had discovered that the female workers were beaten and salaries were not paid; they had to work seven days and up to 97 hours a week.  A woman had died because she could not bear the marathon pace any more and because she was not allowed to visit the doctor.  As a consequence, she collapsed at the work place.  Metro denied a connection between the death of the worker and working conditions in the factory, but for CCC and Ver.di, based on the research of NLC, this is likely.

Muller allowed that there were big oversights at Metro.  The case of R.L. Denim had been a wake-up call for Metro.  In the future, the Four Eyes Principle would be used for the control of worker rights, so that transactions would no longer by overseen only by the purchasing side, but also by the Compliance-Area of the company.  Metro would, beginning immediately, place orders with R.L. Denim again, with order volumes being as before.  Together with the factory owner, Metro would look to any pay that was still due, maternity benefits and other problems.  In the future, work there would be according to law, [and that] if costs of production should rise as a consequence, Metro is prepared bear them.  Verdi and CCC expressed satisfaction with the steps that Metro announced.  It now remains to be seen in the factory's day to day functioning, how much will happen to improve conditions for the female workers.

It was not possible to find agreement regarding the monitoring model:  Metro holds tightly onto the monitoring through BSCI [Business Social Compliance Initiative].  The CCC criticized BSCI, because it is not a multi-stakeholder initiative in which NGO and unions are taking part as equal partners.  Also, BSCI almost exclusively monitors factories, but ignores the purchasing practices of customers like Metro.

CCC and Verdi value the return of Metro to R.L. Denim and the efforts to now pay attention to the implementation of worker rights there as an important success of civil society.  As a consequence, the women workers being punished a second time through loss of their workplace - after years of worker rights violations — has now been avoided .


CCC / Ver.di 6-19, 2009

6/19/2009: Clean Clothes Campaign / Verdi Union Press Release (German)

6/19/2009: Unprecedented Victory for Workers across the Developing World

R.L. Denim/Metro Report