Today United Students Against Sweatshops and the International Labor Rights Forum, two leading anti-sweatshop campaign organizations in the US, launched a new website, www.gapdeathtraps.com, as part of an escalating effort to pressure the Gap to sign onto the binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety agreement. The goal of the website, according to campaigners, is to expose the truth about Gap’s record on fire and building safety, and to give consumers resources to take action at Gap stores to pressure the company to sign a binding factory safety agreement. The launch of the website comes as the official death toll of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh reaches 746 garment workers. The factories at Rana Plaza supplied a number of European brands and several US companies, including Cato Fashions, The Children’s Place, and JC Penney.
"We launched this website because too many workers have died in Bangladesh and the Gap has blocked real reform at every turn,” said Garrett Strain, International Campaigns Coordinator with United Students Against Sweatshops. “This is the next stage in a growing international campaign for the Gap to take real responsibility for the safety of its workers – and we won’t stop until they do.”
Being embroiled in international controversy over workers’ rights abuses in its supply chain is nothing new for the Gap. In December 2010, a fire at the That’s It Sportswear factory, a Gap supplier, killed 29 workers who were trapped inside. Following the factory fire, Bangladeshi unions and international labor groups called on Gap to fix the factories in the rest of their Bangladesh supply chain by signing onto the legally-binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety agreement. But instead, Gap pulled out of negotiations with labor groups and stuck with its own corporate-controlled, voluntary initiative that lacks transparency, accountability, and worker voice – a move that workers’ rights advocates have harshly condemned.
“Gap is using the same self-regulatory approach that they and other brands have used for two decades and that has failed to protect the safety of workers in Bangladesh,” said Liana Foxvog, Director of Organizing with the International Labor Rights Forum. “Gap claims to be a socially responsible company, and now they need to become a leader in factory safety and bring other companies along with them, before more workers are killed in preventable garment industry disasters.”
The Gap Deathtraps website contains information about the Gap’s flawed factory safety program and why campaigners are targeting the Gap to sign onto the binding fire and building safety agreement. The site also contains resources, such as store manager letters, flyers, chants, and petitions, for consumers and activists to take action at Gap stores across the country.
United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is North America’s largest student-run campaign organization, with affiliated organizations on over 150 college campuses advocating for the rights of workers on our campuses, in our communities and making our college apparel.
International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), based in Washington, DC, is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide.