LONDON – US retail giant, Walmart, has been slammed in a report which claims women who work in Asian factories making clothes for the company are at daily risk of assault, sexual abuse and other harassment. Researchers interviewed around 250 workers at Walmart supplier factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia, and claim to have found evidence that women were “systematically exposed to violence” and faced retaliation – including the loss of their jobs – if they reported the attacks.
The findings of the report by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance will be shared with the International Labour Organisation which holds its first meeting on workplace violence and harassment this week. Walmart, which has at least 11,000 stores in nearly 30 nations, is said to be reviewing the findings of the report.
Asia Floor Wage Alliance spoke to more than 250 workers employed in 60 factories that supply to Walmart, documenting the experiences of women garment workers at the base of Walmart garment supply chains in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Indonesia. “Concentrated in short term, low- skill, and low-wage positions, they are at daily risk of gender based violence and harassment at work,” says the report.
“[This report] also draws upon Asia Floor Wage Alliance (2016) documentation of rights violations at work in Walmart garment global supply chains, compiled over four years of research (2012-2016) on Walmart supply chains in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Indonesia.”
Anannya Bhattacharjee of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a group which represents garment workers, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “This is a very urgent and serious issue. All people see are the glittering, fast-moving and affordable fashion. No one has any ideas about the deep-rooted violence against women that is propagated in the supply chains.”