Workers’ Rights Groups to Protest at Gap Shareholder Meeting

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Date of publication: May 20, 2013

Source: Press Advisory

Author: ILRF and USAS

Workers’ Rights Groups to Protest at Gap Shareholder Meeting Campaigners Escalate Pressure Calling on Company to Sign Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

Washington DC – United Students Against Sweatshops and the International Labor Rights Forum, working together with consumers, students, and local labor rights and human rights groups, will hold a demonstration in front of the Gap shareholder meeting tomorrow, to call on the company to sign onto the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

Forty companies have signed onto the Accord, including some of the largest buyers of clothing from Bangladesh. However, only two of these companies are U.S. companies, Abercrombie & Fitch and PVH Corp., the owner of the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands. Other signatories companies are Aldi, Benetton, Bonmarche, C&A, Carrefour, Charles Vögele, Comtex, El Corte Inglés, Esprit, Fat Cat, G-Star, H&M, Helly Hansen, HEMA, Hess Natur, Inditex (Zara), JBC, John Lewis, KIK, LIDL, Loblaw, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, N. Brown group (SimplyBe, High&Mighty etc.), New Look, Next, Otto Group, Primark, Rewe, Sainsbury's, s.Oliver, Stockmann, Switcher, Tchibo, Tesco, V&D, and WE Group. These signatories include brands and retailers from a dozen countries, with presence in more than 1,000 factories in Bangladesh.

The Gap demonstration is part of an escalating series of protest activities. During the past month, over one million people have signed petitions calling on Gap and other global corporations to adopt meaningful factory safety in Bangladesh, and hundreds of consumers have held demonstrations at Gap and Walmart stores in major cities around the United States. Earlier this month, United Students Against Sweatshops and International Labor Rights Forum launched a new website, titled gapdeathtraps.com, with store manager letters, flyers, chants, and petitions, for consumers to take action at Gap stores across the country.

“Too many workers have died in Bangladesh, and Gap has blocked real reform at every turn – ever since 29 workers were killed during a fire at their supplier factory in 2010. These workers were trapped inside; some were burned alive and others died jumping from the upper floors to escape the flames,” said Garrett Strain, International Campaigns Coordinator with United Students Against Sweatshops. “These protests are the next stage in a growing international campaign for Gap to take real responsibility for the safety of their workers – and we won’t stop until they do.”

“Instead of continuing to develop more elaborate voluntary, self-regulatory approaches in the same vein as the ones that they and other brands have used for two decades in Bangladesh, Gap needs to join with the dozens of other companies in the legally-binding Bangladesh safety accord in order to save lives,” said Judy Gearhart, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum.

WHAT: Demonstration to demand that Gap sign onto the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to prevent the next deadly disaster in the Bangladesh garment industry

WHEN: Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 9:30-10:30am PT

WHERE: GAP Headquarters, 2 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

SUPPORTERS INCLUDE: Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA), Friends of South Asia, Global Exchange, International Labor Rights Forum, San Francisco Jobs with Justice, San Jose Peace & Justice Center, and United Students Against Sweatshops.

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References:

IndustriALL Global Union, May 21, 2013:
Investor warning: risk shoppers turned off by Gap’s stand on Bangladesh safety deal

Los Angeles Times, Op-ed by James Brudney and Catherine Fisk, May 17, 2013:
Wal-Mart, Gap skirt the issue
They have refused to sign a Bangladesh workers’ safety accord, showing irrational fears of financial and moral commitments.