Blog: Leonie BarrieWorker rights

Leonie Barrie | 14 September 2005

Retailers around the world will be keenly following the progress of a lawsuit that effectively makes Wal-Mart legally viable for the welfare of workers at its suppliers’ factories. The lawsuit, which has been filed by the International Labor Rights Fund on behalf of apparel workers in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Swaziland, says Wal-Mart violated its contractual obligations by failing to enforce the codes of conduct set up to protect its overseas workers.

It sets a number of precedents likely to cause concern to US companies. For instance, it argues that the code of conduct signed with suppliers created contractual obligations between Wal-Mart and the workers, even though they were not directly employed by the retailer. And it says Wal-Mart made false and misleading statements to the American public about its labour and human rights practices.

The workers – who say they were paid less than the minimum wage, were not allowed holidays, were forced to work overtime, were beaten by managers and were locked in their factories – have few enforceable mechanisms in their home countries to address these violations.

The track record of their legal team makes the success of this case a very real certainty too. It recently sued Los Angeles-based Unocal corporation on behalf of Burmese plaintiffs used as forced labour during the construction of a natural gas pipeline. The suit was settled earlier this year in the plaintiffs' favour for an estimated $30 million in cash.

USA: Wal-Mart Faces Sweatshop Workers' Lawsuit


BLOG

China still dominates apparel sourcing

The latest full-year data on US apparel import trends for 2017 suggests China will remain the dominant sourcing region for some time to come....

BLOG

Retail's rapid transformation requires "platform thinking"

There’s no doubt the retail industry is undergoing rapid transformation as technology continues to reshape how retailers think about their supply chains and meeting their customers’ needs. But to posi...

BLOG

NAFTA trade talks inch forward

Negotiators are meeting this week for the sixth round of NAFTA trade talks – and as soon as this deal has been repackaged, the spotlight could turn to the US free trade agreement with Central America....

BLOG

How can apparel firms stay competitive into the future?

Continuing with the publication of our Outlook 2018 reports last week, we looked at what apparel firms should be doing now if they want to remain competitive into the future....

just-style homepage



Forgot your password?