While most of the companies who use Bangladesh to manufacture goods have signed the IndustriALL pact designed to help pay for safety improvements in manufacturing facilities in Bangladesh, Walmart has refused. In a statement released on their website, the attempt to explain this refusal by stating, and I quote:
“The company, like a number of other retailers, is not in a position to sign the IndustriALL accord at this time. While we agree with much of the proposal, the IndustriALL plan also introduces requirements, including governance and dispute resolution mechanisms, on supply chain matters that are appropriately left to retailers, suppliers and government, and are unnecessary to achieve fire and safety goals.”
This decision was reached in a discussion with “other stakeholders”. They explain their actions in their statement as follows:
“Walmart believes its safety plan meets or exceeds the IndustriALL proposal, and will get results more quickly. For example:
- Walmart committed to rigorous inspections of 100 percent of factories that supply private label or goods directly to the company within six months. The IndustriALL proposal commits to inspecting 65 percent of each participating company’s sourcing volume.
- Walmart will immediately release results of fire, safety and electrical inspections where worker safety is in jeopardy. The IndustriALL proposal makes inspection reports available to the public after as many as six weeks.
- Walmart believes the issue of worker safety requires urgent attention, and has already begun a new, intensive safety inspection program and will have inspected, at its own cost, all 279 factories in its private label and direct supply chain within six months. The IndustriALL proposal provides 45 days to develop a plan.
Since the IndustriALL accord affords a 45-day discussion period, Walmart looks forward to participating in the continued discussion. If the issues with the accord could be addressed, Walmart would be pleased to join the effort.”
Hard to know if Walmart is refusing because they actually believe that their efforts will produce better results or because they are not willing to give up that much control, especially in an effort that would significantly impede regular business (read $$ signs here!).