The Gap “is engaged in several broad initiatives where we work with governments, workers and other stakeholders to improve working conditions across our supply chain,” the company said on its website. In 2013, the firm said, it partnered with 20 other retailers to improve conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry through the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
The group issued a report last month stating that garment workers in Bangladesh show “considerable gaps in their knowledge and awareness of fire safety.” Nearly 30 percent of the teenage workers reported that factory security guards sometimes lock exits.
The report made several nonbinding suggestions, such as better worker training.
The Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights said the Next Collections factory in Ashulia, Bangladesh, where about 70 percent of production is for The Gap and Old Navy, forces employees to work shifts of at least 14 hours, seven days a week.
“Physical punishment and illegal firings are the norm,” the group said in a report. “Pregnant women are illegally terminated and denied their legal paid maternity leave.”
The nonprofit consumer group GreenAmerica.org, which promotes socially responsible shopping, said The Gap has more work to do.
“While The Gap has made some progress toward becoming a more sustainable company, such as promoting diversity and encouraging community involvement, the company has a long way to go before it can be considered socially responsible,” the group said.