Canadian-based Lululemon advertises itself as a company that stands for sustainability and cares about the workers that makes its $90 yoga pants. But four months after the factory disaster in Bangladesh which killed over 1,200 people, Lululemon has still not signed the Bangladesh Safety Accord.
Dozens of other clothing companies that work in Bangladesh have signed on, despite less prominent commitments to sustainability and ethics. Just this week, thanks to pressure from SumOfUs.org supporters and partners, British-owned River Island signed the Accord.
Lululemon is already facing a string of controversies, and it can't afford another one. Now is the time to tell Lululemon to live up to its rhetoric of being an ethical company. Let’s stand with the 200,000 garment workers that marched in Bangladesh this weekend for better working conditions, and demand that Lululemon sign the Accord to prevent future disasters from happening.
Lululemon: Sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord now.
The legally-binding, five-year Accord will see factories undergo safety inspections, mandatory repairs and renovations, and creates an obligation for companies to help pay for any safety upgrades. For months, hundreds of thousands of SumOfUs.org supporters have joined a global call to demand that clothing companies pay a few pennies more to make sure their workers are safe. We’ve called customer service and talked to local store managers, and thousands of us have posted impassioned messages on the Facebook walls of companies that are refusing to put their workers lives before their obscene profits.
And companies are taking notice -- days after thousands of Canadian SumOfUs.org supporters asked Joe Fresh to take action, the Canadian clothing brand signed the Bangladesh Safety Accord. Companies that do not boast about their ethics and sustainability standards as much as Lululemon, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Zara and H&M, have also signed the Accord.
When SumOfUs.org spoke to Lululemon, it claimed to care about Bangladeshi workers. But its own policy just doesn’t stack up to the Accord, and doesn’t guarantee that future disasters won’t happen. Instead, it relies on a flawed system of internal inspectors that have no independence from Lululemon, and doesn’t require them to help suppliers renovate and repair factories where dangerous safety issues are discovered.
Lululemon has had a year filled with controversies. A recall of see-through yoga pants earlier this year has cost Lululemon tens of millions of dollars. In the middle of this controversy, Lululemon’s charismatic CEO decided to step down. Now, while Lululemon needs to rebuild its brand, we need to tell the apparel maker to join with other companies doing the right thing.
Let’s call on Lululemon to stand behind its ethical and sustainability principles and sign the Accord that will prevent future Rana Plaza disasters.
Labour woes in Asia the latest snag for Lululemon, Globe and Mail, Jun. 23rd, 2013.