Gap and Old Navy in Bangladesh: cheating the poorest workers in the world
What Gap Says Is Not What Old Navy Does
By Charles Kernaghan
Director, Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights
In fact, Gap and Old Navy appear to have no idea what is going on at the Next Collections Limited factory — part of the massive Ha-Meem Group in Bangladesh — where their garments are being sewn. And this despite the fact that Gap and Old Navy appear to account for 70 percent of total production at the factory!
If Gap/Old Navy have deployed “corporate monitors” to audit working conditions, hours and wages at the Next Collections factory, we urge Gap to release its audit reports. We can, however, inform Gap and Old Navy that the 3,750 workers at the Next Collections Limited factory in Ashulia are routinely forced to work over 100 hours a week, while being shortchanged of their legal wages — which are already well below subsistence levels.
Gap is in violation of its own code of conduct and these abuses have been going on for more than two and a half years.
The giant Ha-Meem Group, with its 26 factories, including Next Collections, and well over 30,000 garment workers, is in serious violation of Bangladesh’s labor laws and the International Labour Organization’s internationally recognized worker rights standards. Across the giant Ha-Meem Group of garment factories, workers are being routinely cheated of approximately 15 percent of their legal overtime wages. In this report, we provide documentation to confirm these serious violations.
We hope that Mr. Stefan Larsson, Global President of Old Navy, will meet with Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, in Bangladesh, at his earliest convenience.
Young women sewing Old Navy children’s clothing have been arbitrarily fired and denied their paid maternity leave, while also being shortchanged of their outstanding legal benefits. A young woman just 20 years of age recently lost her baby in her seventh month of pregnancy due to being forced to work over 100 hours a week. She was working on Old Navy jeans.
It does not have to be this way. I believe that if we can work together in good faith, both Gap and the Bangladeshi workers will be better off. For over two decades, the powerful Ha-Meem Group of factories has actively blocked the garment workers’ right to organize an independent union. We hope that Gap/Old Navy agrees that Bangladeshi garment workers — among the hardest working yet poorest workers in the world — should have their legal rights respected.
“Made in Bangladesh” Old Navy jeans sewn by young workers at the Next Collections factory.
Next Collections Sweatshop, part of the Ha-Meem Group in Bangladesh
- The 3,750-worker Next Collections factory in Ashulia, Bangladesh on the outskirts of Dhaka is part of the Ha-Meem Group, Bangladesh’s second largest garment exporter which owns 26 factories and employs over 30,000 workers.
- At the Next Collections sweatshop, approximately 70 percent of production is for Gap and Old Navy. Gap is the largest specialty apparel chain in the U.S.
- Next Collections workers are forced to toil 14- to 17-plus-hour shifts, seven days a week, routinely putting in workweeks of over 100 hours. Workers are visibly sick and exhausted from the grueling and excessive hours.
- Workers live in poverty, earning just 20 to 24 cents per hour.
- Physical punishment and illegal firings are the norm.
- Pregnant women are illegally terminated and denied their legal paid maternity leave.
- For the last two-and-a-half years, Gap has been complicit with Next Collections/Ha-Meem Group in a scam to defraud the workers of their legal wages and benefits.
─ Management hands out phony pay slips to pretend that Gap is in compliance with legal hours and wages.
─ Workers are paid in cash, off the books and cheated of 15 percent of their grueling overtime hours. At Next Collections alone, workers are being robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and millions if one includes all the factories of the Ha-Meem Group.
- Workers live in miserable poverty in tiny primitive hovels. By the third week in a month, most have no money left for food.
- Bangladesh garment workers continue to be the hardest workers in the world and are also among the poorest.
Working an all-night, 20-hour shift is often required at the Next Collections factory. On this particular day in July 2013, workers toiled a 22-hour shift, sewing jeans and shorts for Old Navy. They left the factory at 6:00 a.m.
|Despite the fact that she was pregnant, exhausted and sick, management at the Next Collections factory forced 20-year-old Morium Begum to work over 100 hours a week. She lost her baby in her seventh month of pregnancy.|
|Zesmin Khatun was six months pregnant when management illegally terminated her, denying her maternity benefits, earned vacation and severance pay. Khatun routinely worked 100 hours a week as a senior sewing operator at the Next Collections factory.|
Twenty-four--year-old Taniya fights against corruption, graft and lies. She was forced to resign and denied her maternity leave and benefits. Next Collections threatened her with jail time and death.
Mazharul Islam was beaten with sticks and threatened with death all because his wife, Taniya, was asking for her paid maternity leave.
Driven by hunger and long hours, workers went on strike for food and won. Worker leader, Shadin, was threatened and fired. His phony pay stub indicates that he worked only 22 days in May 2013, including just 32 hours of “voluntary overtime.” In reality, Shadin worked 27 days in May.
It is routine for Next Collections workers to put in mandatory overtime of more than 100 hours a month. Brave young workers blew whistle on gross overtime violations. See the report for documentation about work hours.
Clothing labels smuggled out from the Next Collections factory in Bangladesh belong to Old Navy jeans and denim shorts for children and toddlers.
This pair of Old Navy toddler girls “Super Skinny Pull-On Jeggings for Baby” is made in the Next Collections factory in Bangladesh and sold in the United States for $14.94.
“Made in Bangladesh” Old Navy toddler girls skinny jeans sewn by young workers at the Next Collections factory.
Workers smuggled Old Navy skinny and bootcut jeans hangtags out of the Next Collections factory in July 2013. These jeans are sold for $19.50 in the United States. It is excellent that Old Navy hangtags are made of recycled material. It would be great if Gap showed a similar concern for the workers who toil under horrific conditions, making Gap and Old Navy clothing at the Next Collections sweatshop.
Gap and Old Navy in Bangladesh: updates, news articles and more
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