Activists took to the streets of Los Angeles on April 8 to protest Disney and the Gap’s negligence in fires that have killed scores of workers in Bangladesh.
Led by Sumi Abedin, a Bengladeshi garment worker who survived the November 24, 2012, fire at Tazreen Fashions – a supplier of Walmart, Disney, Sears, Dickies and other major market brands and retailers – and Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), demonstrators called on both Gap and Disney to follow through on adequate compensation owed to victims and their families, to join in a fire safety agreement, and increase factory standards.
Two garment makers, PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and Tchibo, have signed legally binding fire safety policies calling for independent inspections of their factories in Bangladesh. Demonstrators demanded that Gap join the fire safety agreement instead of its current practice of voluntary enforcement, and that Disney pays a portion of funds owed to families of fire victims.
An approximate 4,000 garment factories in Bangladesh subcontract and/or supply clothes to an ever-increasing number of western distributors. Despite an activist push to improve safety standards and regulations, accidents, fires, sweatshop working conditions and low wages plague the country’s $20 billion-a-year garments industry.