Disney pulls out from Bangladesh

The Walt Disney Company has stopped production of branded merchandise in Bangladesh, in the wake of a series of factory disasters that reflect poorly on workplace safety, media reports say.

Desk Reportbdnews24.com
Published : 3 May 2013, 02:33 AM
Updated : 3 May 2013, 02:33 AM

New York-based CNNMoney in a report on Thursday said that the company sent a letter in March to vendors and licensees to take away production from "highest-risk countries," like Bangladesh, in order to improve safety standards in its supply chain.

The report said that Disney will also halt production in four other countries: Ecuador, Venezuela, Belarus and Pakistan, by April 2014.

The decision was made before last week's devastating collapse of a factory building in Bangladesh that left more than 500 people dead.
It was apparently prompted by the November fire at the Tazreen Fashions Factory in Dhaka that killed 112 people, and another fire in Pakistan that killed 262 garment workers last September.

"After much thought and discussion we felt this was the most responsible way to manage the challenges associated with our supply chain," CNNMoney quoted Bob Chapek, President of Disney Consumer Products, as saying.
Disney is the first celebrated brand to completely stop production in Bangladesh and that will doubtlessly reflect poorly on the country's image as a manufacturing center.
But less than one percent of Disney's products are sourced from Bangladesh -- and even less from the four other countries, according to Disney spokeswoman Tasia Filippatos.
The company said its decision was based on a report from the World Bank that assesses how countries are governed, using metrics like accountability, corruption and violence, among others. The five countries from which Disney is pulling out had the lowest scores on those measures.
Disney said it will continue to source from some countries, like Haiti and Cambodia, that didn't get high marks in the World Bank report, but only with factories that partner with the Better Work program run by the International Labor Organization and the International Finance Corporation. The group works to control health and safety conditions.
The company will consider permitting production in Bangladesh in the future if factories agree to partner with the Better Work program, according to Disney's Filippatos.
Disney isn't the only company provoked into action after the latest tragedy.
Earlier this week, a group of retailers, including H&M, Wal-Mart and Gap, met with nongovernmental organizations and labor rights advocates in Frankfurt to discuss health and safety issues in the 4,500 garment factories in Bangladesh.
On Monday, a trade association representing stores, the Retail Council of Canada, called an urgent meeting to discuss how to address the situation. Joe Fresh and Wal-Mart confirmed their participation in the meeting, but they have not announced any concrete action.
The British retailer Primark on Monday said it will compensate victims who worked for its supplier, by providing long-term aid for children who lost parents, financial aid for those injured and payments to families of the deceased. A spokesman for the company said it has also partnered with a local aid group to dole out emergency food to families.
Other companies like J.C. Penney, Benetton, and Sears -- all of which source clothes from Bangladesh -- have reaffirmed their support for worker safety and monitoring conditions in the country.
The corporate reactions follow popular outrage reflected in the Facebook pages of these companies over the working conditions that retailers are willing to tolerate in order to sell clothes at cut price rates..
"Until companies like yours control the working situation and pay decent wages, it will happen again. And again," Linda Bowser Fallis posted on Joe Fresh's Facebook page.