Our Commitment to the Workers of Bangladesh
Collaboration & Engagement
We know that true reform requires many stakeholders working together for change. In 2013 Walmart became a founding member of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which concluded its five-year commitment December 31, 2018. Walmart remains committed to worker safety in Bangladesh, and we are continuing to collaborate with the industry, non-governmental organizations, worker organizations and local governments to drive safer working conditions for the men and women in our supply chain. We recognize that no single organization or company can bring lasting change to the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. True reform requires multiple stakeholders, including governments, working together for change.
The Alliance’s Impact
Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety: Impact
According to the Alliance’s fifth and final annual report, published November 2018:
- 93% of all remediation items identified in Alliance factories have been completed, including 90% of all high-priority items
- 428 factories have completed Corrective Action Plans covering all material items
- Nearly 1.6 million factory employees have been trained on basic safety, with more than 1.3 million having received an interactive refresher course
- More than 1.5 million workers in 1,000 factories have access to a helpline to anonymously report safety or other job-related concerns
- The Alliance has provided, together with factory owners, wages for more than 6,600 displaced workers
For more information on the Alliance’s accomplishments, refer to the Alliance’s Fifth Annual Report, available alongside other Alliance publications here.
Updated January 2019.
We are particularly encouraged by the role of training in promoting factory safety in Bangladesh. An independent assessment performed by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health found that Alliance training led to an improvement in factory workers’ knowledge and awareness of fire safety, that workers have a much better understanding of fire hazards and their role in emergencies and evacuations, and that an overwhelming majority of workers liked the content and delivery of the trainings they received. Selected pre- and post-training figures include:
- Know how to react in case of an emergency: 61% before training, 88% after training
- Know the basic components of a fire: 34% before training, 71% after training
- Can correctly identify common fire safety hazards: 2% before training, 45% after training
- Agree that fire drills should be organized during peak season: 37% before training, 84% after training
- Feel unsafe in the factory in which they work most of the time: 25% before training, 6% after training
- Feel it is their obligation to report unsafe conditions: 67% before training, 90% after training
- Would talk to their supervisors about safety concerns: 75% before training, 94% after training
Factory remediation in Bangladesh included upgrading electrical systems, installation or upgrading of fire suppression systems, installation of fire doors, construction of additional staircases and installation of alarm systems.
Building Capacity in Bangladesh
We believe sustainable, long-lasting improvements in the global supply chain can be achieved in part through proactive programs that empower workers and build factory and supplier capacity.
Capacity-building programs we have helped implement in Bangladesh include:
- The Women in Factories Training Program was a five-year initiative by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to work with NGOs in Bangladesh, India, China, Honduras and El Salvador to provide important life and work skills training to at least 60,000 women in the supply chain. The open-source curriculum, developed in partnership with CARE, an NGO dedicated to fighting global poverty, provides program participants with the fundamental life and work skills necessary to be successful in the workplace, at home and in their communities. More than 128,000 women in 156 factories received training through this program, exceeding the program goal of training 60,000 women in 150 factories.
- Walmart contributed $1.6 million to the Institute of Sustainable Communities (ISC) to support the Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Academy in Bangladesh. Through the EHS Academy, more apparel manufacturers in Bangladesh will have access to high-quality, affordable and comprehensive training on fire safety and environmental, health and workplace safety.
Supporting the Victims of Tragedies in Bangladesh
Our hearts go out to the victims of Bangladesh tragedies, both those families who lost loved ones and those workers who have been on a long road to recovery. Walmart believes in stepping up and helping, which is why Walmart and the Walmart Foundation together contributed $3 million to BRAC, a global NGO based in Bangladesh, to support those affected by Rana Plaza and other disasters. From that donation, $1 million was contributed to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, $250,000 was contributed to the Tazreen Claims Administration Trust and the remainder was earmarked for continued support for BRAC's work to provide counseling and rehabilitation and a reserve emergency fund that can be used to respond rapidly to garment factory accidents.
While we did not have production at Rana Plaza at the time of that tragedy, our contribution to BRAC's fund underlines our focus on positively impacting global supply chain practices and driving systemic improvement by collaborating with other stakeholders to improve conditions for workers across the industry.
We will continue to invest our resources in proactive programs that will help enable suppliers and their facilities to meet our standards and to help prevent tragedies.