Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

Wal-Mart questions motives of labour group lawsuit

Wal-Mart’s response to a lawsuit claming it allowed sweatshop conditions at overseas factories alleged that the labour rights group that filed the lawsuit had ''a history of presenting opinions as facts.'' After the group, the International Labor Rights Fund, filed the class-action suit in Los Angeles on behalf of employees for Wal-Mart contractors in China, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Swaziland and Indonesia, Wal-Mart said it needed to study the lawsuit before responding. ''We are a global leader in monitoring supplier factory conditions,'' Wal-Mart said yesterday, ''and if we find that any of our suppliers' factories are unwilling to correct problems, we end our relationship with them.'' Wal-Mart noted that the federal Department of Labor had found ''serious flaws'' in one of the fund's reports on labour conditions in Central America. . Saying that its 200 inspectors made 12,000 monitoring visits last year, Wal-Mart said: ''If a violation is observed, Wal-Mart works constructively with suppliers so their factories correct the problems. We discontinue business with them if they fail to change their practices.'' Wal-Mart said that the labour fund had ties to the United Food and Commercial Workers union and that the suit was an effort by the union to pressure Wal-Mart. ''We aggressively address problems and work proactively with suppliers' factories to improve conditions,'' Wal-Mart said. ''We believe sustainable results will come if we are able to convince suppliers and factories that compliance is an investment, not a cost.''