Firm’s role deepens as more questions arise about corporate responsibility
A shocking new development in the Dhaka fire investigation potentially implicates global retail giant Walmart in a decision not to upgrade facilities to make them more fireproof.
Both Walmart and Gap were approached by Bangladeshi suppliers about the facilities upgrades, and Bloomberg reports that other retailers approved the plan. Walmart and Gap refused to pay the higher prices necessary to make the upgrades feasible, however, and the plan fell through.
Walmart declined to comment, but had previously attempted to distance itself from the fire despite reports that they had clothes in the factory. They did tell Bloomberg that they work to ensure “proactive measures are in place to reduce the chance of factory fires.”
The fire last month killed 112 people and sparked protests in manufacturing zones across Bangladesh. Walmart was not the only company implicated in the fire – Li & Fung supposedly had clothes at the factory, and Sears and Disney allegedly used the factory in the past.
Walmart claims that the factory was hired without their knowledge by a contracted supplier. The company had previously flagged the factory as high-risk, and has now terminated its relationship with that supplier.
Despite danger, injury, and possible trauma, many of the workers who survived the fire have expressed a desire to get back to work quickly, indicating the importance of the garment sector to relieving poverty in Bangladesh.