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Alliance report slams Walmart for exploitation in Asian factories

As per a worker’s rights group, workers at Asia factories that supply Walmart, H&M and Gap are still being exploited in sweatshop conditions, three years after the deadly collapse of a Bangladeshi factory. Workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Indonesia who make clothes for Walmart face intensive labour exploitation and abuse, said a report released recently by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, an international coalition of trade unions and human rights organisations.

The Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh killed 1,127 garment workers in 2013, creating an international outcry about the human toll of making cheap, fast fashion clothes for wealthier nations like the US. But a series of reports from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance suggests that little has been done to improve conditions for garment workers in developing Asian nations.

In its report, Asia Floor Wage Alliance ‘identifies persistent rights violations’ against Walmart supply chain workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Indonesia. The report is based on interviews with 344 workers, many of them women, at 80 Walmart supplier factories. It says that many of the workers, particularly in Cambodia and India, complained of sexual harassment.

The report identifies specific problems in each country. For example, it says that most Cambodians in Walmart supplier factories work under ‘highly exploitative’ contracts that leave them susceptible to unsafe working conditions, low wages, denial of benefits and harsh penalties for engaging in union activity — including termination of employment. This includes ‘forced overtime’ during Cambodia’s hottest season, leading to ‘mass fainting episodes resulting from over exertion, exacerbated by inadequate nutrition.’