Ether Tex, a factory located in the building that collapsed yesterday in Bangladesh, lists Walmart as a customer, as well as Dutch retailer C&A and German retailer KiK.
Another factory, New Wave, lists among its customers Benetton, Dress Barn, and UK retailer Primark.
More than 240 are reported dead so far.
The Pittsburgh-based Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights (IGLHR) reported this morning that one day before the building’s collapsed workers refused to enter the factory building.
“There were massive cracks in the factory walls, some measuring a foot wide and ten to twelve feet long,” IGLHR reported. “The workers could see directly into the factory. Union leaders advised the workers not to enter the factory. A local sub-district director also told the workers not to go into the building. The sub-district director told the factory owner to lock the factory. But on Wednesday, April 24, the owner re-opened the factory. And management told the workers — you must go to work — if not, the garment shipments will not go out on time and if that happens, we will not have any money to pay your wages for the month.”
Scott Nova, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Worker Rights Consortium, called the building collapse “the latest in the endless parade of senseless deaths in garment factories producing for Western brands and retailers.”
Nova said that documents and labels found in the wreckage, customs records, and information from websites of the factories housed there, a number of brands and companies had production in the building, including US fashion retailer Cato Fashions, Spanish clothing brand Mango, Loblaws, Canada’s largest supermarket chain, which has a clothing line called Joe Fresh, and the Children’s Place, a US clothing brand.
While the factories report them as customers, it has not yet been confirmed whether Walmart, C&A, Benetton and others had recent production in the building.
“Labor rights groups around the world have been asking, indeed imploring, major retailers to address the grievous safety hazards in their Bangladesh factories and the response is always the same: vague promises and public relations dodges, while the pile of corpses grows ever higher,” Nova said.
Two brands have signed on to a binding fire and building safety, but the biggest players, like Walmart and Inditex, have refused.
“How many more workers have to die before these corporations are willing to take the steps necessary to put an end to this parade of horror?” asked Nova. “The Worker Rights Consortium estimates that it would cost brands and retailers less than 10 cents per garment to make their factories safe, but they continue to prioritize the relentless drive for lower costs over the lives of workers.”