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H&M, Walmart & Gap Inc. face allegations of gender based violence in their Asian supply chains

At the end of May 2018 Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and Global Labor Justice (GLJ) issued three reports alleging gender based violence in the Asian supply chains of Gap, H&M and Walmart.  AFWA and GLJ followed these reports with letters to the brands setting out their findings and asking the brands to take some specific steps.  These included:

  1. Publicly support and commit to proactively implement an ILO Convention and Recommendation on Gender Based Violence that includes the recommendations from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and partners.
  2. Meet with the Asia Floor Wage Women's Leadership Committee in the next three months to discuss the supply chain findings and next steps.
  3. Proactively work with the Asia Floor wage Alliance to pilot women's committees in factories in factories that eliminate gender based violence and discrimination from the supplier factories.

On 15 June we invited the brands to respond to these letters and specifically the steps they were being asked to take.  H&M, Walmart & Gap Inc. all provided responses which you can access below.     

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All components of this story

Report
1 May 2018

Full report: "Gender Based Violence in the GAP Garment Supply Chain"

Author: Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Center for Alliance of Labor & Human Rights, Global Labor Justice, Sedane Labour Resource Centre, SLD

This report—including interviews with more than 215 workers employed in 21 factories that supply to Gap—documents the experiences of women garment workers at the base of Gap garment supply chains in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. Concentrated in short term, low skill, and low-wage positions, they are at daily risk of gender based violence and harassment at work.

Read the full post here

Report
1 May 2018

Full report: "Gender Based Violence in the H&M Garment Supply Chain"

Author: Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Center for Alliance of Labor & Human Rights, Global Labor Justice, Sedane Labour Resource Centre, SLD

This report—including interviews with more than 331 workers employed in 32 factories that supply to H&M—documents the experiences of women garment workers at the base of H&M garment supply chains. Concentrated in short term, lowskill, and low-wage positions, they are at daily risk of gender based violence and harassment at work.

Read the full post here

Report
1 May 2018

Full report: "Gender Based Violence in the Walmart Garment Supply Chain"

Author: Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Center for Alliance of Labor & Human Rights, Global Labor Justice, Sedane Labour Resource Centre, SLD

This report provides an empirical account of the spectrum of gender based violence and risk factors for violence women workers face in Walmart garment supply chains. Chapter 4 of this report presents new research on gender based violence in Walmart garment supplier factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Indonesia collected through interviews and focus group discussions with 25 workers and trade union leaders organizing in Walmart supply chains between February and May 2018.

Read the full post here

Article
23 May 2018

Letter to Walmart re gender based violence

Author: Asia Floor Wage Alliance & Global Labor Justice

I write...to share outcomes from our research into gender based violence in Walmart suppliers in key garment production countries in Asia...we respectfully request that Walmart take the following actions...:

1. Publicly support and commit to proactively implement an ILO Convention and Recommendation on Gender Based Violence that includes the recommendations from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and partners.

2. Meet with the Asia Floor Wage Women's Leadership Committee in the next three months to discuss the supply chain findings and next steps.

3. Proactively work with the Asia Floor wage Alliance to pilot women's committees in factories in factories that eliminate gender based violence and discrimination from the supplier factories.

Read the full post here

Article
30 May 2018

Letter to Gap Inc. re alleged gender based violence in its Asian supply chain

Author: Asia Floor Wage Alliance & Global Labor Justice

I write...to share outcomes from our research into gender based violence in Gap suppliers in key garment production countries in Asia...we respectfully request that Gap that the following actions...:

1. Publicly support and commit to proactively implement an ILO Convention and Recommendation on Gender Based Violence that includes the recommendations from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and partners.

2. Meet with the Asia Floor Wage Women's Leadership Committee in the next three months to discuss the supply chain findings and next steps.

3. Proactively work with the Asia Floor wage Alliance to pilot women's committees in factories in factories that eliminate gender based violence and discrimination from the supplier factories.

Read the full post here

Article
30 May 2018

Letter to H&M re alleged gender based violence in Asian supply chain

Author: Asia Floor Wage Alliance & Global Labor Justice

We write...to share outcomes from our research into gender based violence in H&M suppliers in key garment production countries in Asia...In particular, we would like to draw your attention to a current case of assault against union leaders and subsequent termination of their employment at H&M supplier, Shahi Exports Unit 8, No. 171, 7th Main Road, Industrial Suburb, Peenya II, Phase III, BBMP Ward No. 11, 560058, Bangalore...We respectfully request that H&M take the following actions in response to these findings:

1. Publicly support and commit to proactively implement an ILO Convention and Recommendation on Gender Based Violence that includes the recommendations fromthe Asia Floor Wage Alliance and partners.

2. Meet with the Asia Floor Wage Women's Leadership Committee in the next three months to discuss the supply chain findings and next steps.

3. Proactively work with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance to pilot women's committees in factories that eliminate gender based violence and discrimination from the supplier factories.

4. Demonstrate a commitment to proactively addressing violence and violations of decent work standards in the H&M supply chain by taking immediate action to ensure that the demands of Karnataka Garment Workers Union (KOOGU) Union are met, including:

4.1 Reinstate all 15 workers who were fired in retaliation for union activity;

4.2 Terminate employment for all factory managers and senior staff involved in the attack;

4.3 Meet with KOOGU to discuss the original three demands: inclusion of an elected worker on the factory health committee to address the quality of water available to workers at the factory, irregular transportation to the factory, and payments below living wages.

 

Read the full post here

Article
5 June 2018

Global Labor Justice, Asia Floor Wage Alliance welcome news H&M & Gap support an ILO Convention on gender based violence

Author: Asia Floor Wage Alliance & Global Labor Justice

Today the Guardian reported that, “Gap and H&M both would investigate the allegations [of gender based violence in their supply chains] and that they welcomed initiatives to tackle violence, including an ILO convention.” This response comes after Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and Global Labor Justice (GLJ) issued three reports exposing gender based violence in the Gap, H&M and Walmart Asian Supply Chain last week asking for public support of an ILO Convention and to meet with women led committees in the supply chain

Read the full post here

Company response
26 June 2018

Gap Inc.'s response re gender based violence

Author: Gap Inc.

We are deeply concerned by the allegations raised in this report, and our Global Sustainability team is currently conducting additional due diligence to investigate and address the allegations raised within it. Further, we have initiated a dialogue with some of our key implementing partners, among them CARE, ILO Better Work, and Verité, to discuss how our industry can accelerate its effort to address this global, systemic issue....Globally, Gap Inc. agrees that gender-based workplace violence is a deeply important issue and an appropriate subject for ILO action, and we are engaged on this issue in a multitude of ways. Since 2017, we have participated in a CARE advisory group that has focused on, among other gender-based issues, identifying how the private sector can best support the ILO’s effort to address gender-based violence in the workplace. We will continue to address this urgent issue through our role in the advisory group, to advance our goal of seeing the ILO adopt measures that will help all stakeholders address this issue in a targeted and effective manner.

Download the full document here

Company response
26 June 2018

H&M's response re gender based violence

Author: H&M

Concerning the ILO Convention and Recommendation on Gender Based Violence, we understand that the 107 session of the ILO has made substantial progress to put forward proposals for a Convention supplemented by a Recommendation. We understand also that there are still important points to be fully discussed, such as a definition of “Worker”...We support the efforts and impulses towards addressing the issue of violence and harassment in the world of work, taking into account the responsibility of tripartite constituents, and we stand ready to play a positive role in this direction. Concerning the report regarding H&M that Asia Floor Wage Alliance has recently published, we are deeply concerned by the disturbing findings and conclusions contained in it. Our teams in the countries concerned are starting the relevant investigations....Finally, concerning the specific case related to Karnataka Garment Workers Union (KOOGU) Union dispute with one of the factory in India we are working with, I would like to assure you that our team on the ground is actively involved in playing a proactive role to find a solution. Since the beginning, in early March, we have been in contact with the management of the factory, the workers directly involved in the accidents and the trade unions...

Download the full document here

Company response
26 June 2018

Walmart response re gender based violence

Author: Walmart

We are aware of the report and are reviewing its findings.  The allegations in the report are concerning, and we welcome the opportunity to identify areas for improvement.  Walmart is committed to supporting our suppliers, advocating for workers in the supply chain and helping lead the effort to combat forced labor and human trafficking.  Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment work has led to significant training, life-skill building and opportunity for women in the supply chain, and we will continue to work on their behalf through the collaborative efforts we are making within the retail industry and with suppliers, governments and NGOs to create a more responsible supply chain.