Aussie retailers to publish address of Bangladesh RMG maker

Target Australia and Pacific Brands have promised to publish the location of their supplier factories in Bangladesh, in what human rights groups described as a ”watershed moment” for Australian retailers.

Kmart, the first Australian company to pledge full transparency of its supply chain, will publish the location of every Bangladesh factory on Tuesday.

Bangladesh-rmg-workerOxfam’s chief executive, Helen Szoke, said the announcements would encourage transparency.

”Without releasing information about supplier locations, there is no way to independently check with workers that decent conditions and basic rights are being upheld within factories,” she said. ”We urge other Australian retailers to follow Kmart’s lead, by being open about where they source their garments.”

Pacific Brands, which owns Bonds, Berlei and Jockey, also committed to signing the international accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh, becoming the seventh retailer to do so since the RanaPlaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh in April killing at least 1127 workers.

Pacific Brands’ chief executive, John Pollaers, said Bangladesh factories supplied only 1 per cent of its garments.

In the eyes of the consumer, it was important that retailers behave ethically, Mr Pollaers said.

In Tuesday’s announcement Target pledged to reveal the location of its 45 Bangladeshi supplier factories in the next six to nine months, with locations of Indian and Chinese factories to follow.

Chief executive Stuart Machin said Target was improving conditions for its workers around the world. ”We want our customers to be confident that the products they buy from us have been produced in safe, fair and equitable working conditions,” he said.

Kmart and Target, both owned by Wesfarmers, were the first Australian companies to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord which agrees to independent building inspections, a thorough review of safety standards, and repairs and renovations to unsafe factories.

In October, Kmart became the first retailer to offer compensation to victims and their families when another Bangladeshi factory caught fire, killing seven people. It was revealed Kmart, Target and Woolworths used fabric from the factory.

Fairfax Media’s Walkley award-winning investigation into the wildly unregulated $20 billion garment industry in Bangladesh revealed the poor conditions for workers producing clothes for Australian brands.

-The Age National.