Woolworths shares a secret

Campaigning for change, Labour rights, Success stories article written on the 04 Jul 2014

Photo: David Crosling/Oxfam AU

By Daisy Gardener, Corporate Accountability and Fair Trade Advisor.

Since the horrific collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in April 2013, Oxfam has been campaigning for Australian companies to improve factory safety and to be more open about where their products are being made.

Following public campaigning by Oxfam supporters, eight major Australian clothing retailers have now signed the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord – including big names like Kmart, Target, Woolworths (Big W) and Cotton On.

Most clothing and footwear companies are highly secretive about the factories that supply to them. But, in addition to signing this important safety agreement, companies are now starting to tell us where their factories are. For the first time ever we can now see where Big W (owned by Woolworths) is making its clothes in Bangladesh.

Knowing where the factories are located means we can talk directly to workers making Big W and Kmart clothing about their treatment. Speaking directly to these workers enables us to better support their local campaigning for decent wages and other improved conditions. Kmart were the first to publish the locations of their Bangladesh supplier factories in December 2013. Woolworths followed several months later.

At the time of writing this blog to companies, The Just Group (Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Peter Alexander) and Best & Less, have still not signed the important Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord.

We are continuing to ask these companies to sign the Accord to make sure they are part of independent fire and structural safety inspections.

Thank you to the thousands of Oxfam supporters who have taken action so far, together we are changing the face of Australian retail for the better.

Former child garment worker, Kalpona Akter, has recorded the above message for you. She hopes that you can help us get Just Jeans and Best & Less to also join the Bangladesh Accord.