Metro gets praise for factory improvementsOctober 2009
German retailer Metro Group has received plaudits for its response to labour standards problems in a Bangladeshi supplier factory, which has involved actions against beatings of female workers, forced overtime and filthy facilities.
A report by the US-based National Labor Committee (NLC), a coalition of NGOs that campaigns against sweatshops, says conditions at the RL Denim garment factory in Chittagong have dramatically improved since intervention by Metro this summer.
After abuses were uncovered by the NLC earlier this year, Metro, which has more than 2200 outlets in 32 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, announced that it would end business with the factory and walk away.
But it was eventually persuaded to return its orders and help the owners with remedial measures, including allowing the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity and National Garment Workers Federation to go into the factory and help institute changes.
In unusually fulsome praise based on recent on and off site visits, the NLC says workers at RL Denim are ‘genuinely excited and pleased with all the recent improvements’.
Abusive supervisors have been fired, proper lunch hours instigated, pay is now correct and on time, and working hours are standardized. The factory also now has child and health care centres, a canteen, purified drinking water, a dining area, toilet paper and soap.
Metro was a founding member of the Business Social Compliance Initiative, which has recently been stepping up its work with members on ethical supply chain management.
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