Update 7/6/13: Kmart have now signed the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord.
A last minute phone call from Cotton On's Geelong Head Office to Socialist Aotearoa narrowly averted a picket at their Auckland stores last week.
On the night before the picket Cotton On informed us they would now intend to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord after clarification of the details of implementation. It's a big win for human rights and so we took Friday's protest to Foot Locker.
Foot Locker are a global giant who source a significant amount of shoes from Bangladesh but who have so far refused to sign the Accord.
A dozen students and workers drew a crowd of around fifty as Foot Locker's flagship store echoed to chants of 'Blood, blood, blood on your shoes!'
Last week Auckland University Students' Association, New Zealand's largest student union also passed a motion calling for corporations to sign the Accord and sent letters to the CEO's of Foot Locker, Cotton On and Kmart.
But with a new engineering survey showing three out of five of Bangladesh's factories are vulnerable to collapse, it's urgent we continue to push for other Australasian retail companies to sign the Accord.
In early May the Bangladeshi government discovered one of Kmart's factories had cracks in the walls, declared it unsafe and had to evacuate it. The cracks were apparently non-structural but it shows the cavalier attitude taken by Kmart with its suppliers. The same government inspector found Kmart's supplying factory had blocked fire exits and metals bars over windows. This in a factory with 650 people on two floors.
Last Friday's protest shows the power of street protests to push these retail companies to sign the Accord. We can build from the Cotton On protest to take on all companies in New Zealand that import from Bangladesh but have not signed the Fire and Safety Accord.
That's why Kmart must be next!