The collapse of Rana Plaza, which housed several garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh, caused thousands of victims, counting more than one thousand dead and over two thousand wounded. In the aftermath of the disaster, In Extenso labels, a brand belonging to the Auchan group, were found in the rubble. The Rana Plaza tragedy has shed light into the horrific conditions faced by workers and the serious human rights abuses going on in Bangladeshi textile factories.
Following the tragedy, Sherpa, Peuples Solidaires-Action Aid France and Collectif Éthique sur l’étiquette filed unfair trade practice complaints against Auchan, in 2014. Despite the gravity of the accusations, the case was closed without further action in January 2015. The three organisations then decided to file a civil suit in June 2015, on the basis that the previous investigation into practices was insufficient.
Sherpa underwent a thorough investigation in Bangladesh of its own initiative, collecting new evidence and poignant testimonies from factory workers employed by Auchan subcontractors. The association presented all findings to a judge to raise the alarm about the human rights violations which continue to take place in the Auchan subcontractors’ factories.
According to the information collected, Sherpa reported the following:
Health and safety working conditions regarding building and fire safety are not met in several factories. These can lead to new fires, such as that in Tazreen that killed more than 100, or to a repeat of the Rana Plaza disaster;
Absence of a system of protection against the toxicity of garments;
Workers are being constantly threatened with or subjected to verbal and physical violence;
Workers can work up to 70 hours per week (legal maximum in Bangladesh is 60);
Wages to not provide employees with access to decent living;
No compensations schemes for unfair dismissal;
Open disregard for union rights of employees.
Sherpa calls on the public to sign the petition and help prevent a new tragedy to take place because of irresponsible corporations and their serious human rights violations through their subsidiaries and subcontractors abroad.
A thorough investigation into the involvement of Auchan in the Rana Plaza tragedy and the violation of workers’ fundamental rights in Bangladesh is needed to avoid history repeating itself.