Metro Retail returns goods, big victory for workers rights
Metro Group, the world's third largest retailer, has been forced to do the right thing.
• Will immediately return all of its orders to the R.L. Denim factory in Bangladesh;
• Admits to the miserable failure of its past efforts to monitor/protect even the most basic worker rights;
• Will institute significant changes throughout its worldwide supply chain to guarantee that human, women's and worker rights standards are finally respected.
This is a huge victory for the mostly young women workers in Bangladesh, one that could also give hope to workers all across the developing world. The victory of the R.L. Denim workers clearly shows that with the support of international solidarity, workers in the developing world can struggle for their legal rights and win! Up to this point, it has been all too common that workers daring to ask for their most basic rights are fired and thrown out on the street with nothing.
The cowards who beat the young women-the general manager of the R.L. Denim factory and two abusive supervisors-have been fired. Workers are no longer beaten at R.L. Denim. They are treated with respect. Women receive their maternity leave with pay. Workers are now paid correctly. The factory now has a daycare center; a health clinic and a factory dining area have been set up. The workers now have purified water to drink, and the bathrooms are clean and have been supplied with soap and toilet paper.
Best of all, R.L. Denim management has agreed to open its factory to the highly respected local Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS) and the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) to guarantee continued factory improvements. The workers will have the right to organize a union.
Everyone who participated in this campaign deserves a Thank You, and a big hug from the R.L. Denim workers! They dared to struggle for their rights, and one major part of the victory was your international solidarity.
In the U.S., the United Steelworkers union played a major role, coordinating with Workers Uniting and the UNITE union in the United Kingdom and the Verdi union in Germany. The German Clean Clothes Campaign and the Romero Christian Initiative played key roles. This was international solidarity at its best-from the R.L. Denim workers and the worker and human rights groups on the ground in Bangladesh to solidarity campaigns in the U.S., Germany, the United Kingdom, Central America and elsewhere.
It is good to win! It's also good to know that the three U.S. staff people of the NLC with two great interns from Carlow University can take on the world's third largest retailer! More than 700 of you wrote letters to Metro Group demanding that they clean up the factory, guarantee respect for worker rights and return all their work-and that workers who dared to struggle not be thrown out in the street with nothing. More than anything else, your letters led to this victory for the workers across the developing world.
Metro Group's Statement: