Aldi challenged over supply chain treatment of Bangladeshi workers
The Bangladesh government and the German low-cost retailer, Aldi, are being urged to take action to ensure over 1000 workers employed at the Swan Garment and Swan Jeans factories are provided with months of unpaid wages and bonuses they were deprived of following the sudden and illegal closure of the factory in April 2015.
Swan workers have been engaged in a sit-in outside the Dhaka Press Club since 11 July to demand action from the Bangladesh government and are due to meet with the Minister of Labour to discuss their demands, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC).
Swan Garments and Swan Jeans are both owned by the Swan Group, who also own a further three factories in the Dhaka area. The Swan Group websites lists a number of European brands as long term buyers from the Group including Lidl, Next, Bestseller, Dunnes and Walmart. Workers claim they were producing for Aldi Australia, Piazza Italia and Motivi in the months prior to closure.
The problem of sudden and illegal closures of garment factories is growing in Bangladesh, in part due to changes in the industry triggered by the Rana Plaza collapse, says CCC. These closures are leaving thousands of workers unemployed and deprived of their legally owed severance pay. To date little action has been taken by the Bangladesh government or international brands and retailers to ensure workers are not left without the wages and benefits they are owed.
“Swan Garments is one of many factories that has closed illegally in Bangladesh over the last year. As in the majority of cases it is workers who are left with nothing – not even the wages and severance payments they are owed” says CCC's Samantha Maher.
“It is unacceptable that once again workers are being left to pay the price for bad factory management, impossible buyer demands and government inaction and we urge Aldi and the Ministry of Labour to ensure justice for the Swan workers."