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Levi’s Instagram Flooded With Criticism After Worker Safety Campaign

Remake’s latest social media initiative to prompt Levi Strauss & Co. to sign the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry found good traction on Instagram but barely made a peep on Twitter.

The global advocacy organization that champions fair pay and climate justice in the garment industry continues to pressure the jeanswear giant to sign the agreement, the successor to the 2013 Bangladesh Accord, which is due be extended to workers in Pakistan in October 2023.

Remake, which has 5,653 followers on Twitter, called for a “Twitter storm” between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 6 to tag Levi’s and include the hashtag #SignTheAccord. Participants were asked to spotlight the fact that in January 2022 four workers died after inhaling poisonous gas in a Pakistani denim factory that makes clothing for Levi’s. The deaths were reported by the Clean Clothes Campaign, another worker-advocacy group that wants Levi’s to sign, in a brief about safety issues and violations in Pakistini factories that it released in November.

The recommended tweets included “Rest in power Mohammed Imran, 37, Sheeraz, 19, Ghulam Husain, 35, and Shaharyar, 37. All are dead after a gas leak in a factory making @Levis jeans. How many more must perish before @Levis will #SignTheAccord?” and “Hey @Levis, you claim to be socially responsible but four garment workers died making your jeans in 2022. Many more faced heat exhaustion, harassment, and injuries. Stop risking garment workers’ lives for profit. #SignTheAccord!”

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Aside from Remake’s own tweets about the matter, a mere 14 people had tweeted about the campaign as of Wednesday morning.

It was an entirely different story on Instagram though. Levi’s Dec. 6 post hawking its Baggy Boot Jeans prompted 246 comments by Wednesday afternoon, the majority of which lambasted the brand for not signing. User lindseythrifts, a clothing reseller, wrote, “It’s disgusting that your company values jeans more than the 4 human lives that were lost in your factory.” And I.sa_ma commented, “Your workers should be protected and not dying for fashion! What are you doing besides spending all the money on greenwashing?”

Instagram user Terry Bryan even urged people to rally in front of Levi’s New York headquarters.

By Wednesday morning U.K.-based sustainability activist Venetia La Manna tweeted that Levi’s had disabled comments on its Instagram posts, which she called “horrendous.”

“Our Twitter storm yesterday was just one of the activations we planned in conjunction to letter drop offs at Levi’s stores, a social media (IG) post demanding people tag Levi’s to sign the accord and a protest at Levi’s headquarters in San Francisco on Dec. 5,” Remake CMO Katrina Caspelich told Rivet on Wednesday. “Looks like our efforts to educate the public on what’s happening to Levi’s garment workers is apparent, especially when seeing the comments on the Levi’s IG account.”

She added that there have been more than 200,000 social media engagements with the accord Levi’s campaign to date.

This latest call to action follows Remake’s other recent pressure campaigns targeting the famous 501 maker.

In early September during its “Week of Action” that coincided with New York Fashion Week it protested at 18 Levi’s stores in seven countries (Bangladesh, India, USA, Canada, Italy, England and Pakistan), inserted information about the accord into pockets of merchandise at them and sent more than 2,700 emails to the company’s executives and board of directors. The following month it launched more in-person actions in six cities and emailed a letter to company CEO Chip Bergh from itself and 20 workers’ unions and civil groups in Bangladesh, North America, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan urging him to sign.

The agreement has ensured safe factories since 2013 and has the support of 186 other brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Uniqlo, Zara, Adidas and H&M. Levi’s has stood firm in its refusal to sign it and says its own criteria for worker safety in overseas factories is perfectly satisfactory.

Its official statement, released in March 2022 and one that it still upholds, said: “In 1991, we were the first multinational company to introduce a comprehensive supplier code of conduct, our Terms of Engagement, which prioritized worker safety, including annual fire safety assessments. Over the past 30 years we have continued to put our resources behind efforts that will make the biggest difference for the workers in our supply chain, adapting our policies and practices as needed.”

It added: “Our Terms of Engagement current assessments are based on industry-leading standards and local- country laws, conducted by specialized third-party experts. Following a risk-based approach, we also conduct third-party assessments with direct suppliers operating in Cambodia and Pakistan, with processes in place to take corrective action wherever deemed necessary. In 2022, we’ll complete phase two of our assessment in Pakistan and our third-party grievance reporting hotline will expand to all factories across Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan.”