Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shop At Walmart, Get Blood On Your Hands

On Black Friday (really, it's Black Thursday now), Walmart workers across the nations stood up for themselves and demanded to be treated with respect and to be treated fairly.

Walmart has a long history of not treating their employees well. There have been a multitude of lawsuits, most of which Walmart has lost, regarding not paying wages owed, sexism, racism and other unfair and illegal practices. One of their more infamous infractions is their policy of locking workers inside the store overnight.

They're not too concerned about their vendor employees either.

In a story reminiscent of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911, there's the news of a fire that has so far killed 124 people in a garment factory in Bangladesh which supplies Walmart. This particular factory employed about 2,000 people, so it wouldn't be surprising to find the death count will be much higher.

Walmart knew of the unsafe conditions of the plant, but did nothing:
Tazreen was given a "high risk" safety rating after May 16, 2011, audit conducted by an ethical sourcing assessor for Wal-Mart, according to a document posted on the Tuba Group's website. It did not specify the conditions or violations that led to the rating.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart said online documents indicating that the factory received an orange or "high risk" assessment after the May 2011 inspection and a yellow or "medium risk" report after an inspection in August 2011 appeared to pertain to the factory where the fire occurred.

The August 2011 letter said Wal-Mart would conduct another inspection within one year. Spokesman Kevin Gardner said it was not clear if that inspection had been conducted, or if the factory was still making products for Wal-Mart.

If a factory is rated "orange" three times in a two-year period, Wal-Mart won't place any orders for one year. The May 2011 report was the first orange rating for the factory.

There was no indication whether the violations had been fixed since the May inspection. Neither Tazreen's owner nor Tuba Group officials could be reached for comment.
Although the article tries to cover for Walmart, it also states that the company's webpage shows that Walmart is indeed still a customer.

Sadly, it's not surprising that Walmart wouldn't have demanded improvements or cut ties long ago, like a good company would have. If they don't care about their workers, why would they care about anyone else's?

UPDATE: So many people were trapped and killed by the fire because the building had no emergency exits.  Why did Walmart continue to business with these people?  Why did they upgrade their safety level when there were no exits?

Walmart isn't really any cheaper than other stores, but even if they were, I'd rather spend more knowing that I didn't help kill hundreds of people by giving Walmart my money.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks capper. Great catch on the apparent similarities with the NYC Triangle Waist Fire in 1911.