The only Canadian company to sign on to a binding agreement to improve labour conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh was Loblaw – who make the clothing label Joe Fresh
Information on The accord can be found here:
Update: Loblaws does not have a lot posted on their website. Getting answers from them has proven tricky. Given they were one of the first companies I contacted, answers have been slow. They are hesitant to provide much informaiton. They are very willing to promote the good they are doing in Bangladesh, but have no interest in responding to additional questions. They did provide me with a name and a phone number of someone to speak with, but I have been unable to reach him and he as not called me.
What they will not answer:
- I am wondering if you can provide me with a list of countries that your clothes are made in?
- How often do executives from the company visit the factories that make your clothing?
- How do you choose the factories that your products are made in?
What they have said:
In April 2013, Loblaw committed to relief, compensation and improved standards in Bangladesh. In the past year, the company has undertaken the following actions:
- Provided total relief and compensation commitments of $5,000,000, as follows:
- o$3,715,000 in compensation to the ILO-led trust fund for long-term compensation to injured workers and the families of deceased workers
- o$1,000,000 in relief committed to Save the Children Bangladesh and the Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed for textile workers in Savar ($500,000 funded in 2013; $500,000 scheduled for 2014).
- o$285,000 in short-term compensation to provide approximately three months’ salary for Rana Plaza workers (paid in 2013).
- Publicly committed to maintaining production in Bangladesh, while also contributing to improving workplace conditions in the country. The company has made every effort to be a leading voice on this topic, making public commitments and public statements on an issue many other brands have chosen to avoid.
- Became an early signatory – and the only Canadian company – committing to membership in The Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which introduces standards and audits related to the structural integrity of factories.
- Increased the level of standards and inspections of all factories where its products are sourced. In the summer of 2013, the company audited each of the dozens of factories in Bangladesh producing its goods. These audits were shared with The Accord.
- Created and stationed a team of employees in the region to ensure the rigour of factory audits and to monitor workplace conditions and local relationships. This team is led by a long-time Loblaw supply chain expert from Canada who has relocated to the region.
In our view, the collective industry response to the Rana Plaza collapse has taken too long and various necessary steps have yet to be taken. Further, based on the initial compensation model – calculated on a shared basis between government, industry and brands – Loblaw, as one of the top contributing organizations, is contributing more than its share.