Target: Walmart spokesman Kevin Gardner, and other major retailers
Goal: Keep workers safe from building fires and collapses
A recent building collapse in Bangladesh, which killed over 300 people, was due to the gross oversight of company that employs the workers. The building was never approved as safe and displayed both deep and surface-visible flaws. Buildings similar to this are currently being used under the same conditions, and the owners are making no moves to improve or shut down these unsafe factories. New safety proposals have been rejected by retailers because they would be binding and costly. This selfish and money motivated view will most likely be the cause of more building fires and collapses, and subsequently, more deaths. Demand that retailers protect their workers and follow safer standards.
Major retailers such as H&M, Walmart, and Gap have refused a more logical, comprehensive safety plan that is union-proposed. Private safety inspections would replace infrequent and lackluster government inspections and these private inspectors would have the power to shut down buildings they deem unfit. The contract would be signed by the corporations who employ the workers and would be legally binding. Inspections would be much more thorough, as private inspectors, unlike government employees, specialize in this type of surveying.
The inspections would be funded by the companies who own the buildings, which is why these companies are so hesitant to sign the contract. In fact, in relation to the contract, a representative from Walmart said that it was “not financially feasible . . . to make such investments.” It is easy, from a human rights perspective, to see why this contract should be signed, but it also makes sense from a business perspective. In reality, signing the contract may save such companies money because they will not have to pay damages, workers’ compensation, or relocate factories.
Don’t allow these companies to let illogical greed stand in the way of safety. Demand that they sign this contract immediately.
Dear Kevin Gardner,
In light of the recent tragedy in Bangladesh, it is more important now than ever to enhance building safety. It seems as if you are headed in the opposite direction – you have been refusing to take extra measures to ensure the safety or your workers. A union-proposed restructuring of the building inspection process suggests that private inspectors conduct checks rather than the government. Because this measure will cost your business more money up front, you are refusing this essential change.
In reality, this change may save you money in the long run. It will prevent your company from having to rent or buy a new building when one collapses or catches on fire, it will save you from having to find new workers, and it will increase your credibility in the public eye. More importantly, to reject such a contract is to sign the death sentence of more workers. Please reconsider your actions — sign the contract as soon as possible.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: TheCatalyst31 via Flickr