Kmart Australia has announced a number of robust new measures that are expected to enhance and improve working conditions and building safety and security at factories owned and operated by Kmart suppliers in the developing world.
The measures include:
-Publication of the addresses of supplier factories that Kmart sources goods from;
-Participation in the Impactt Benefits for Business Workers program to help improve workers’ livelihoods; and
-A strengthened Ethical Sourcing Code that binds Kmart suppliers and their factories to even higher workplace safety and security standards.
"The measures we have announced are a further step in an ongoing journey the Kmart team in Australia, China, Bangladesh and other countries are on, with the focus on improving the safety, security and conditions for people who work in factories we source goods from, through meaningful and measureable action," Kmart managing director Guy Russo said.
"The garment manufacturing industry is critical for Bangladesh and other developing countries. Kmart and other responsible retailers provide a pathway out of poverty and unemployment, but we must always focus on doing everything possible to ensure people are working in a safe environment and treated properly.
"Since Kmart announced it would further strengthen ethical sourcing practices from Bangladesh and other developing economies we do business in, we have been methodically developing our plan to integrate the changes throughout our operations.
"Our work has included hundreds of audits of supplier factories for compliance with our strengthened workplace safety and establishing new contractual arrangements with suppliers that have binding obligations around standards, site access and location disclosure.
"The willingness and enthusiasm of our suppliers in making structural and procedural improvements to meet our higher standards has been heartening to see, and demonstrates the best way to improve conditions is by constructively working with our partners to bring about change.
"The factory owners we do business with are as passionate as we are about creating safe workplaces and are also on the road of continuous improvement," Mr Russo said.
Kmart becomes the first Australian retailer and one of a small number of retailers worldwide to publish their supplier factories. From today, the addresses of the factories in Bangladesh that Kmart sources goods from appear on the company’s website.
Kmart anticipates posting the locations of factories in India early next year and China late 2014. Kmart’s participation in and support of the Impactt Benefits for Business and Workers program is a critical part of helping supplier factories in Bangladesh to make improvements that will ultimately deliver better jobs for workers through improvements in induction systems, skills training and development, and communication.
The program is led by a consortium of global retailers including Kmart Australia, Tesco and Walmart, and managed by Impactt, a global consultancy specialising in human rights, labour standards, gender and international development.
Kmart’s strengthened Ethical Sourcing Code contractually binds Kmart supplier factories to continuously meeting higher standards for workplace safety and security, which ultimately will deliver the people who work in these factories better protection against unsafe buildings and poor working conditions.