A deadly fire in a Bangladesh garment factory that killed at least 112 workers has been linked to Walmart. Photos from the scene of the fire show Faded Glory-brand clothing, an exclusive Walmart label it sells in stores. Walmart said in a statement the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for them at the time of the fire, but that a supplier subcontracted work to it "in direct violation of our policies." The biggest retailer in the United States said they have terminated their relationship with the supplier.
The murder earlier this year of a Bangladeshi union organizer is part of an escalation of attacks on the nation’s 4 million garment workers who seek to change abusive working conditions, says Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS).
Akter, who just ended a visit to the United States sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), worked closely with her BCWS colleague and factory union organizer, Aminul Islam, who was murdered earlier this year, his body found beaten and tortured. Islam also was a leader of Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), As recently as mid-September, Bangladesh police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at tens of thousands of garment workers rallying outside factories in an industrial area near Dhaka.
Last year, after the June Textiles garment factory in Cambodia burned down, the 4,000 workers—some of whom had put in 18 years on the job—were offered $20 each in compensation for losing their livelihoods. Period.
That’s when the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center stepped in, working with the factory’s new owner, H&M, and through the country’s legal system, ultimately winning an unprecedented settlement that ensured they could support their families.
Hours after Apple released its first quarter earnings, which showed a mind-blowing 44.7 percent profit, The New York Times published another in a series of articles illustrating some of the reasons behind Apple’s profit margin. Describing the conditions in which Chinese workers assemble iPhones, iPads and a panoply of Apple products, the report states:
When the nation’s Poet Laureate, Philip Levine, gives a reading of his work tomorrow here at the AFL-CIO, he will recite poems that weave a lyrical web of words around his visceral understanding of the world of work. Levine, whom the Library of Congress named Poet Laureate in May, and who has written of his experiences working in Detroit factories in the post-World War II years, finds his verses especially resonate with America’s workers—and that’s in part because his portrayals are so honest. (To attend the event, which begins at 1 p.m. Nov. 15, RSVP here.)