Today marks one year since the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building, which killed more than 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers. As we have noted before, Walmart, the second-biggest purchaser of apparel made in Bangladesh, was listed as a customer for a factory located in the building, and orders for Walmart goods were found in the rubble. Sadly, Walmart’s response to the tragedy has been woefully inadequate.
Politico broke the news earlier this week that Walmart hired lobbyists to fight a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have cost the company business. Walmart has refused to sign the binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, in favor of a voluntary alliance it formed with Gap and other retailers. From Politico:
Last November, a massive fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh killed over 100 garment workers. Just months later, in April of this year, Rana Plaza, an eight-story garment factory, collapsed, killing over 1,100 people in what has been called “the worst industrial accident in the history of the garment industry.” Both tragedies had a Walmart connection: Walmart-brand apparel was found in the rubble at Tazreen, and one of the factories in Rana Plaza listed Walmart as a customer it made goods for.
After the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, Walmart issued a series of bold proclamations. Well, we here at WMTS decided that it might be worth checking in to see if Walmart has lived up to its promises.
“There’s no substitution for boots on the ground in the store. No substitution. You can have all the technology you want but if you don’t get it out of the back room to the floor when the customer needs it, then that’s a lost cause.” – Drake Jackson, Category Manager (retired), Walmart
Walmart’s taking yet another hit on labor issues today, as the U.S. Labor Department announced a corporate-wide settlement agreement between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Walmart that requires the company to fix safety and health problems in nearly 3,000 of its stores. Walmart is also required to improve training related to hazard communications and the use of trash compactors and harsh cleaning chemicals, and will pay a $190,000 penalty.
Market Force Information’s new grocery retailer study contains no good news for Walmart: It shows the company lagging far behind grocery-selling peers on a “Delight Index” that combines customer satisfaction with likelihood to recommend a store to friends and family: