Best Global Green Brands 2014

brands under fire

US Brands Still Holding Out as Bangladesh Government Looks to Place Blame

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 23, 2013 01:54 PM

Almost one month to the day after the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh killing 1,127 people, American retailers and their international counterparts remain at odds over the plan to improve labor conditions, with legal liability still at the top of US concerns.   

Gap, one of the largest American retailers implicated in industry accidents in Bangladesh has said in recent weeks that it was close to signing the proposed agreement, if only clauses regarding arbitration were removed. “In the United States, there’s maybe a bigger legal risk than there is in Europe,” said Gap CEO Glenn Murphy, according to The New York Times. “If we were to sign onto something that had unlimited legal liability and risk, I think our shareholders should care about that.” Calling the language of the agreement "vague and unclear," Gap, along with Walmart, Target, JCPenney, Sears and other major US retailers have bilked at signing the accord, despite the fact that over 30 global brands had signed on by the proposed May 15 deadline.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Bangladesh Victims Yet to See Compensation as Governments Pressure Compliance

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 21, 2013 12:54 PM

Fortunately, the issues brought to light by the recent horrors in Bangladesh are not disappearing from the headlines. Unfortunately, those who are culpable are not acting swiftly enough.

What little consensus has emerged from the rubble of a collapsed eight-story factory, which claimed over 1,120 lives, underscores the fact that public-private collaboration is vital to enact the sweeping reforms required for real change rather than corporate social responsibility campaigns. Major retailers including Walmart, Gap, JCPenney and Sears have yet to sign the proposed fire and safety agreements, while Walmart, like the wolf guarding the hen house, said it will monitor its 300-plus Bangladeshi suppliers itself. However, H&M, along with 30 other international retailers committed to the $3 billion fund to improve the safety of garment factories in Bangladesh.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Investors Speak Out Against US Retailers Over Refusal of Bangladesh Reform

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on May 17, 2013 05:47 PM

It turns out that angry consumers aren't the only ones that American retailers need to worry about. In a joint statement published Thursday, a group of investors sought out to express their dissatisfaction with US retailers that have refused to sign the Bangladesh fire and safety agreement.

The release, undersigned by Amalgamated Bank Longview Funds and 14 others said, "We expect companies in our portfolios to ensure the integrity of their supply chains." The group, which reportedly holds a combined $1.35 trillion in assets, called out both Walmart and Gap, two major US retailers who spoke out against the accord, advising them to act swiftly and effectively in agreeance with the legally-binding proposal, which was signed by over 30 international companies by its May 15 deadline. 

The response is a reaction to the late-April factory collapse in Savar, Bangladesh that has now claimed over 1,120 lives. The accord, which is a version of a previously proposed agreement that was in effect turned down by several US retailers in 2011, hopes to protect the millions of Bangladeshi people that work in the country's 5,000 garment factories, for as little as $38 per month. The industry, now the second largest garment producer next to China, has seen a surge in recent years, resulting in the creation of faulty building sites and poor labor conditions. The circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory highlight the shortcomings of an industry built on loose ethics and fast, inexpensive turnaround. While the agreement looks to enforce independent building inspections and fire and safety training, it also hopes to create a more open administrative atmosphere for workers to present their concerns.Continue reading...

brands under fire

As Deadline Expires, Walmart, Gap Under Fire for Refusing to Sign Bangladesh Agreement

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 16, 2013 05:38 PM

As the May 15 deadline has come and gone to sign the IndustriALL-backed Bangladesh safety agreement, the abscence of a number of US brands has become even more apparent as more than 30 international retailers have agreed to the terms defined by international labor organizations to ensure the repair and future maintenance of Bangladesh's growing garment industry. Last month, Rana Plaza, an eight-story factory employing mostly young women collapsed, killing 1,127 people.  

While American clothing brands and retailers have been actively involved in the ensuing dialogue, the only two to sign the agreement by the deadline were PVH (which owns the Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Van Heusen brands) and Abercrombie & Fitch, while Walmart and Gap publicly declared their opposition to the plan

To date, the list of signatories includes: Abercrombie & Fitch, Aldi, Benetton, C&A, Carrefour, El Corte Ingles, Esprit, G-Star, H&M, Helly Hansen, Hess Natur, Inditex (Zara's owner), jbc, KiK New Look, Lidl, Loblaws on behalf of its Joe Fresh and Primark brands, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, N Brown Group, Next, PVH, Rewe, Sainsbury's, Stockmann, Switcher, Tchibo, Tesco and WE Europe.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Bangladesh Hangs in the Balance as North American Retailers Weigh Options

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on May 14, 2013 07:01 PM

As it stands, 1,127 lives were lost in the factory collapse in Bangladesh and over a dozen international retailers have signed on to the binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement as the May 15 deadline looms. 

In a move that was hailed as "game-changing," H&M, Bangladesh's largest producer, signed on to the agreement on Monday, which promises to ensure independent inspections of all factories and financial aid to improve factory safety. “With this commitment we can now influence even more in this issue," said Helena Helmersson, Head of Sustainability for H&M, in a statement posted on the fast-fashion retailer's corporate website. 

While H&M's decision may have influenced other signatories like Italy's Benetton, Spain's Mango and Britain's Marks & Spencer, it has yet to affect the decisions of North American retailers including Gap Inc. and Walmart.Continue reading...

brands under fire

H&M, Primark Sign Bangladesh Safety Agreement; Gap Says It's Next [Update]

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 13, 2013 06:39 PM

The rescue efforts in Savar, Bangladesh have officially been turned over to recovery as the death toll surpasses 1,100 in what has become the worst accident in the history of the garment industry. But 20 days later, it seems that progress and change is beginning to emerge from the rubble of a decrepit industry. 

The Bangladeshi government has agreed to let garment workers form trade unions without the permission of factory owners—a breakthrough in workers' rights in a de-regulated country, where garment factories were shut down this week following worker unrest over wages and conditions.

The proposed  safety plan, backed by a coalition of labor groups, calls for independent inspections of factories and a legally binding fire and building safety plan requiring retailers to help pay for improvements to factory safety and is an amendment to the 2006 Labor Act lifting restrictions on forming trade unions in most industries.

The pact also calls for changes regarding severance payments, welfare fund payments, management practices and payment and banking standards. In what could be a game-changing announcement, Swedish retailer H&M announced Monday that it will sign the binding agreement.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Benetton Finally Admits Involvement as Activists Demand Action in Bangladesh

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 9, 2013 05:47 PM

The death toll at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh has surpassed 900 as another factory fire has claimed an additional eight lives in the industrial district of Mirpur. 

Fortunately, the fire in the 11-story building that manufactured mainly sweaters was closed for the night and workers had left the premises, according to Reuters. According to reports, the factory's managing director, a member of the board of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association was meeting with friends in the building when the blaze broke out. The fire was fueled by massive piles of acrylic products used to make cardigans, jumpers and pajamas for customers including Britain's Primark and Spain’s Inditex Group. The eight victims died of suffocation in stairwells trying to escape from the smoldering acrylic that produced immense amounts of smoke and poison gas. Among the victims were also two local government officials.

For what it's worth, the horrific state of factories in Bangladesh, magnified by global news coverage and relentless social media attention is finally starting to have an effect on those involved.Continue reading...

brand collaborators

Target Prepares to Launch Pro-Social Designer Collection with FEED USA

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 6, 2013 11:41 AM

More than 50 million Americans are “food insecure,” according to a 2011 US Department of Agriculture study. In its latest designer collaboration, Target is partnering with FEED Projects to help change that. 

Target is joining forces with Lauren Bush Lauren's FEED Projects, which has previously partnered with Gap, Bergdorf Goodman and Pottery Barn, but the Target partnership is the largest to date. The collection is due to launch June 30. The duo just wrapped up a five-city tour of Feeding America programs that took them to food banks and local pantries in San Francisco, Minnesota, New York City and more. Target and FEED are hoping the partnership will generate 10 million meals for Feeding America.

"Target (has) such a massive reach that we just don't have," Lauren told USA Today. "So it's wonderful when we can partner with Target to really just blow it out and have such a big impact in a short amount of time."Continue reading...

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