On October 23, 2019, a report was published by Wall Street Journal titled ‘Amazon sells cloths from factories other retailers blacklist’ – which focused on the source of apparel items on the giant e-commerce platform Amazon.com.
The report claimed that a large number of items on Amazon was sourced from factories in Bangladesh which were blacklisted by other retailers. It also pointed out the current lower safety and compliance conditions in which Bangladeshi garments workers are working.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) clarified this issue raised by Wall Street Journal pointing out the errors in the report and providing actual data. In the WSJ report, several factories of Bangladesh were claimed to be not safe and compliant. A specific factory named Riverside Apparels of Chittagong was mainly on the focus.
According to BGMEA, it has been stated that the factory has only 3 production lines and 300 workers and caters to buyers requiring smaller order quantities. The factory was last inspected on 17 November, 2018 and scored 60 out of 100 in the overall assessment of structural, electrical, fire safety and social compliance. This indicates that there is no large possibility of danger to work in that factory.
BGMEA also stated that these small factories are dependent on the constantly changing pattern of the consumer demands for smaller batches and quantities. This creates employment opportunities for a large number of people. But the profits gained from these factories are not sufficient for them to maintain all the compliance standards of Accord and Alliance from the very beginning.
The main goal of Accord and Alliance is that factories like these which are currently lacking safety and compliance standards gradually improve their conditions and make up in future. Their goal is not to blacklist and close down such factories.
As these factories are too small to stand against giants like Amazon, they fail to negotiate properly and claim a better price. As a result, it becomes harder for them to invest properly on safety and regulation standards.
BGMEA demands that inspections like such kind shouldn’t take place with a target of being punitive to the smaller factories. Rather they should focus on pointing out the improvements and measures which should be taken by these factories in order to be fully compliant. Because these factories are the backbone of the current manufacturing era of Bangladesh.