brands under fire
Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 26, 2013 05:33 PM
The death toll in the latest Bangladesh garment industry disaster has risen to more than 300 as rescue crews continue to pull survivors from the rubble of Rana Plaza and search for an estimated 500 workers still missing, with more than 2,500 already rescued.
In the aftermath of the garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for those responsible to turn themselves in. It is believed that the building owner and factory owners are in hiding after ignoring warnings from police and industry officials to forbid workers to enter the building after cracks were discovered on Tuesday. The building collapsed on Wednesday.
"Whoever might be the culprits, and if even they belong to our party, they won't go scot-free," the impoverished nation's Prime Minister warned. (Update: The factory owners were arrested on Friday night, when the death toll had risen to 336.)
The disaster shines a light, yet again, on global apparel companies that outsource manufacturing to Bangladesh, a practice that has ballooned into an $18 billion industry as clothing companies continue to adandon manufacturing in China, where inflation and rising wages are pushing up costs. The upshot: Bangladesh and its questionable garment industry is now the world's second-biggest garment manufacturing center.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 12, 2013 04:34 PM
AT&T has landed at top spot on CR Magazine's 14th annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, beating out other top Russell 1000 large-capitalization companies on merits including human rights and corporate governance.
Rounding out the top 10 on the new list: Mattel, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eaton Corp, Intel, Gap, Hasbro, Merck & Co., Campbell Soup Co. and Coca-Cola.
The ranking crunches 298 data points of disclosure and performance measures across seven categories: environment, climate change, employee relations, human rights, governance, finance and philanthropy.
Notably, 26 companies on the 2013 list were not on the 2012 list, while 11 companies have appeared on the list every year since 2007. For those that were bestowed the honor, many were quick to highlight the significance of employee participation to the success of the company's initiatives.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 28, 2013 05:51 PM
Hazardous conditions at Indian garment factories serving the U.S. and European markets have been highlighted by another tragedy.
Mixed amid the debris of a deadly blaze at the reportedly unlicensed Smart Export Garments factory on Saturday in a densely populated area of Dhaka, Bangladesh were charred clothing from European brands, including two owned by Spanish retail behemoth Inditex, owner of Zara. Government officials are investigating reports that the sole emergency exit at the factory was locked. Up to 300 employees were working when the fire broke out, and most died from asphyxiation.
Other labels visible in the Smart factory damage included French brands Sol’s, Scott and Fox and G Blog by Gemo along with Inditex’s Leftie’s and Bershka, German low-cost brand KIK and even a purchase order by New York’s M. Hidary & Company for Hawaiian Authentics swimwear, according to The New York Times and Agence-France Presse.Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 10, 2012 06:04 PM
Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier was honored in June with the “Good Scout” Award by Philadelphia’s Cradle of Liberty Boy Scout Council. Frazier grew up in North Philadelphia and credits scouting as instrumental in his life. Now Frazier, the first African American to head a major pharmaceutical company, is turning his back on the organization until it reverses its discriminatory policies.
Now Frazier and Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, have joined the growing wave of corporate leaders taking a stand against discrimination towards gay scouts and leaders in the Boy Scouts of America.
As GLAAD notes of the corporate backlash to the Boy Scouts' anti-LGBT stance, Merck joins Intel and UPS with the following statement: “The BSA's policy of exclusion based on sexual orientation directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines. The Foundation re-evaluated funding for the BSA when the organization restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation. Merck Foundation has notified the BSA of this decision.”
Boy Scouts of America director of public relations, Deron Smith, provided the following statement to brandchannel: “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good. While not national sponsors, these companies have positively impacted America’s youth through support of Scouting in local communities. We respect their right to express their own opinions.”Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 7, 2012 03:21 PM
As countries like Bangladesh move up the food chain from aid to trade, the global eco-system fueling the fire, literally and figuratively, is largely the retail fashion industry, feeding the western world’s insatiable appetite for fashion.
The November 24th factory blaze that killed 112 garment workers in an illegal factory in Bangladesh showed the world, as Reuters puts it, that “pressure from big Western brands to produce huge volumes of apparel fast and at rock-bottom prices, [is making] Bangladeshi suppliers routinely sub-contract their orders.”
As the victims — many of them young women and mothers, all of them poor — are mourned and the Clean Clothes Campaign organizes vigils at C&A and beyond as part of a bigger shame campaign for brands whose labels were found in the ashes, what’s really on trial, as the New York Times points out in a scathing article today, is ethical sourcing and a severely out-of-balance equation claiming the lives of impoverished workers with no options.Continue reading...
in the spotlight
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 6, 2012 04:22 PM
Outsourcing jobs has been a topic that kept coming up over and over again during the battle for the US presidency this year. And for good reason. American companies have been moving their manufacturing jobs elsewhere for eons, ia fact that wasn’t exactly helping the nation’s economy recover from a bruising recession.
Apple, which has manufactured most of its products in Asia for years, is doing an about-face following its bruising over labor rights at its Foxconn manufacturing plant in China. Now CEO Tim Cook tells NBC's Brian Williams (in an interview that will air Thursday night) that Apple will manufacture an entire Mac line in the US starting next year.
“I don’t think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job,” Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek in its new cover story on his first year helming the brand. “But I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs.” Cook estimates that the company has created more than 600,000 jobs in America since 1980 (WSJ.com does a nice job summarizing Apple's US manufacturing history.)
Perhaps this is a way for Cook and Apple to give a little back to America. The New York Times reports that Apple is planning to shell out $100 million for American manufacturing next year. It currently manufactures some parts of the iPhone in the US. It's also, of course, a way for Cook to carve his own brand and legacy apart from his predecessor and old boss, Steve Jobs.
“My own personal philosophy on giving is best stated in a [John F.] Kennedy quote, 'To whom much is given, much is expected,’” Cook told Businessweek. “I have always believed this. Always. I think that Apple and Apple’s employees have done enormous good and can do even more.”Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 26, 2012 04:04 PM
In a fiery furnace of déjà vu, a garment-factory fire in Bangladesh on Saturday killed 112 people trapped inside the building, or jumping to their deaths in buildings where safety is ignored in a retail rush for products to export.
It was just over a century ago — March 25, 1911 — when the now infamous fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on New York's Washington Square left 146 workers dead because the owner had blocked exits and stairwells to keep employees from leaving or taking a break. The tragedy led to reforms and unionization for U.S. garment workers, but here we are a century later, and it's happening again in Bangladesh.
About this latest firetrap, which has sparked mass protests in Bangladesh, AP writes: “The fire alarm: Waved off by managers. An exit door: Locked. The fire extinguishers: Not working and apparently 'meant just to impress' inspectors and customers. 'Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower,' said Maj. Mohammad Mahbub, fire department operations director.
The factory is owned by Tazreen Fashions Ltd., a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, and has produced garments for Walmart, Carrefour, C&A and IKEA, since opening in 2009 and employing about 1,700 people. Walmart's connection to the factory is still "unclear," as Salon notes. A 2011 Walmart ethical sourcing audit gave Tuba Group a yellow rating and requested that it address unacceptable conditions at its factories.
Update: Walmart stated on Monday that the factory in question was indeed producing pieces for the retailer — but without its knowledge, due to a subcontractor arrangement. "Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier," America's biggest retailer said in a statement. "The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh."Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 24, 2012 11:31 AM
At least five million new iPhone 5 owners were busy checking out their new devices over the weekend, and factories have been churning them out as quickly as they can make them to meet the global demand.
In the midst of all the good news, though, Apple was forced to halt production for three days. A "massive brawl" Sunday night at Foxconn's Taiyuan factory in northern China that produces parts for the iPhone 5 reportedly involved around 2,000 people and took 5,000 police officers to contain, although details are still unclear. The tensions reportedly stemmed from a personal dispute that flared up, the BBC is reporting. M.I.C. Gadget uploaded two videos from the scene.Continue reading...