Target: Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke
Goal: Ensure safe working conditions at retail supply-chain factories
112 workers were recently killed in a Bangladeshi factory used by Wal-Mart. The factory had already been determined to be a high fire risk during the previous year and more than 700 Bangladeshi garment workers have died from unsafe working conditions since 2005. In spite of this, Wal-Mart continues to refuse to pay higher costs for worker safety, as the company has nixed a plan that would require retailers to pay their suppliers enough to cover safety improvements. Sign this petition and urge Wal-Mart to use some of its immense fortune to ensure a safe workplace.
Wal-Mart director of ethical sourcing’s response to the tragedy in Bangladesh is particularly telling of the attitude of large companies like Wal-Mart. The director said, “Specifically to the issue of any corrections on electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500 factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories. It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.” Apparently, Wal-Mart does not believe that saving the lives of the individuals who make the company’s products is a “feasible investment.” Much like the machinery used in these factories, the stance of Wal-Mart is that workers in third-world factories are expendable and ultimately replaceable for the purposes of the company. Apparently safety and fire protection is an unnecessary expense.
The executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium described Wal-Marts position thusly: “1) We know these factories are unsafe. 2) We know it will cost substantial sums to make them safe. 3) We are not going to pay for this. 4) We are going to keep using these factories anyway.” Bangladesh has some 4,000 garment factories, and many lack proper safety measures. Wal-Mart has an obligation as largest retailer in the world to lead the way in amending this. Sign this petition and tell Wal-Mart that it must pay to ensure the safety of its workforce.
Dear Mr. Duke,
I am writing this letter to address the recent deaths of 112 garment workers in a Bangladeshi factory that makes clothing for your company. This occurrence is a tragedy, and what makes it so tragic is that it could have been easily prevented.
Wal-Mart has chosen not to pay higher costs to maintain factory safety in countries like Bangladesh where workers are already vulnerable to near slave-labor wages and mistreatment by their employers. A representative for your company has stated that it is “unfeasible” for Wal-Mart to afford the costs of maintaining a safe workplace in all its factories. This is absurd, considering that your company made over $15 billion last year. Your company is the largest retailer in the world. There is no legitimate reason why your company can’t pay the cost of sufficient safety protection in your factories.
700 Bangladeshi garment workers have died from unsafe work conditions since 2005. This is the result of retail companies turning a blind eye to the unsafe conditions that persist in their supply chain. It is the obligation of Wal-Mart to ensure its factories are not accidents waiting to happen. I urge you to pay whatever it takes to prevent disasters like what happened in Bangladesh recently from ever happening again.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: pakistancyberforce.blogspot.com