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Retail & Mega-Stores

Big-box stores like Wal-Mart, Asda and Home Depot have squeezed out small businesses all around the world, driving down wages and quality of life where they do business, all in the name of low prices. They are the largest, slowest-moving easy targets, smaller (and yet still massive) retail chains like Starbucks, Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, the Gap and others have also drawn fire for sweatshop abuses, labor violations, and other questionable corporate behavior.


Garment Factories In Burma Often Violate Labor Laws
by Richard SmallteacherCorpWatch Blog
March 28th, 2016
A new report on garment factories in Burma issued by Action Labor Rights (ALR) estimates that nearly a third of workers were required to work 60 hours or more a week, with almost two thirds reporting that they had no choice in the matter.

Retailer SportsDirect Accused of Sweatshop Like Conditions in the UK
by Pratap ChatterjeeCorpWatch Blog
June 1st, 2015
SportsDirect, a British sports merchandise retailer, has been accused of employing workers in sweatshop like conditions by Channel Four Dispatches, a UK TV program. The broadcaster aired undercover footage shot by a reporter at the company’s Shirebrook warehouse in northern England.

UNIQLO, Japanese Fast Fashion Label, Accused of Labor Violations
by Mayu ChangCorpWatch Blog
April 13th, 2015
Chinese factories in Dongguan and Guangzhou that supply UNIQLO - a “fast fashion” label owned by Fast Retailing Co. from Japan - have been accused of endangering their workers’ lives, according to a new report from Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong-Kong based labor rights group.

Fashion District Businesses Accused of Laundering Mexican Drug Money
by Richard SmallteacherCorpWatch Blog
September 30th, 2014
One thousand law enforcement officers staged an early morning raid on dozens of businesses in Los Angeles fashion district to seize $65 million allegedly derived from drug trafficking. QT Fashion, a company that imports wholesale maternity wear from China to Mexico, provided a key to the money laundering scheme.

Amazon Workers in Germany Strike for Better Pay
by Richard SmallteacherCorpWatch Blog
September 23rd, 2014
Some 2,000 German employees of Amazon, the internet retail giant, walked off their jobs this week at four sites - Bad Hersfeld, Graben, Leipzig and Rheinberg. The strike action was coordinated by Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (United Services Union), a Berlin trade union commonly known as Ver.di.

Fast Food Workers Hold Biggest Ever Strike For Wages in U.S.
by Pratap ChatterjeeCorpWatch Blog
September 5th, 2014
Hundreds of low wage fast food workers were arrested at strikes and protests in some 100 cities around the U.S. on September 4. They were demanding that companies like Burger King, KFC, McDonald's and Wendy's pay workers a living wage of $15 an hour.

Yue Yuen Shoe Factory Backs Down After Workers Strike for Pensions
by Pratap ChatterjeeCorpWatch Blog
May 3rd, 2014
Some 40,000 workers in seven Yue Yuen shoe factories in Dongguan city, China, went on strike last month to successfully demand that their employer make pension payments required under the law.

Fast Food Workers File Lawsuit Against McDonald’s for Alleged Wage Theft
by Fatima HansiaCorpWatch Blog
March 21st, 2014
Over 25,000 low-wage employees working at McDonald’s franchises in California, Michigan and New York are being systematically cheated of their wages, say attorneys who filed seven simultaneous lawsuits last week against McDonald’s and its franchisees for violations of labor law.

Cambodian Police Open Fire at Garment Workers Protest, Killing Four
by Richard SmallteacherCorpWatch Blog
January 3rd, 2014
At least four people were killed when Cambodian police opened fire on a garment workers protest in Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh. The workers were demanding a minimum wage of $154 a month from employers who supply Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands as well as H&M.

Ikea France Accused of Spying on Employees
by Richard SmallteacherCorpWatch Blog
December 15th, 2013
Sûreté International – a private detective agency - was allegedly hired by Ikea France to spy on prospective and existing employees, activists from the union Force Ouvrière and even disgruntled customers.

Bumper Year for Corporate Donations Reveals Profit Motives
by Rick CohenCorpWatch Blog
September 10th, 2013
U.S. corporations gave away $18.15 billion in charitable donations in 2012 – a combination of cash, grants, and in-kind goods - up 12.2 percent in nominal terms over the previous year. A closer look reveals profit motives, notably for pharmaceutical companies and retail chain Wal-Mart.

Rival Safety Agreements for Bangladesh Garment Factories Announced
by Richard SmallteacherCorpWatch Blog
July 8th, 2013
Two rival agreements that aim to improve safety in Bangladeshi garment factories were launched this week. The European-led Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’s Garment Industry was launched Monday while the much weaker North American led Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety was launched Wednesday.

Spinneys Lebanon Criticized for Labor Practices
by Richard SmallteacherCorpWatch Blog
May 28th, 2013
Charbel Nahas, the former Lebanese labor minister, is to appear before a court next month on charges of publishing incorrect information, slander and libel over the labor practices of Spinneys, the Dubai-based Middle Eastern supermarket chain.

H&M Responds Slowly to Bangladesh Factory Collapse Killing 1,100
by Puck LoCorpWatch Blog
May 19th, 2013
H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), a major Swedish “fast fashion” retailer, led 30 international companies this week to commit to a new $3 billion fund to improve the safety of garment factories in Bangladesh. Watchdog organizations say the companies acted only because of external pressure by activists and workers.

Benetton, Others Tied to Bangladesh Factory Disaster: 400 Killed
by Pratap ChatterjeeCorpWatch Blog
May 1st, 2013
Multinationals like Benetton have tried to distance themselves from Rana Plaza, a Bangladeshi building housing five clothing factories, that collapsed last week killing over 400. Activists argue that change will only come when workers get more political support to challenge them.

Walmart Faces Increased Scrutiny Over Bangladesh Sweatshop Fire
by Puck LoCorpWatch Blog
January 7th, 2013
Walmart is coming under increased scrutiny for its ties to a garment factory in Dhaka where 112 workers were trapped and killed in a fire in late November 2012. The company, which buys $1 billion in clothing a year from Bangladesh, initially tried to deny any connection.

H&M Targeted for Uzbek Cotton Allegedly Grown with Forced Labor
by Puck LoCorpWatch Blog
December 27th, 2012
Swedish company H&M, the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, is under pressure to cut ties with supplier South Korea-based Daewoo International and others that purchase cotton from Uzbekistan, where the government allegedly forces children and adults to harvest the white fiber for little or no pay.

Forever 21 Fails to Comply With Federal Sweatshop Investigation
by Puck LoCorpWatch Blog
November 30th, 2012
Clothing chain retailer Forever 21 has been sued by the U.S. government for ignoring a subpoena requesting information on how much the company’s suppliers pays the workers who make its clothes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the salaries are well under the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

India’s Retail Sector: Ripe for the Picking
by Freny ManeckshaSpecial to CorpWatch
November 19th, 2012
A decision by the Indian government to allow foreign multinationals to invest in the country’s $500 billion retail market is expected to spell the death knell for thousands of small, family-owned shops and even threatens street hawkers, who have supplied local neighborhoods for generations.

Bribing Mexico: Walmart Accused of Corruption
by Pratap ChatterjeeCorpWatch Blog
April 21st, 2012
Eduardo Castro-Wright, the former CEO of Walmart Stores USA, has been accused of orchestrating a $24 million bribery scheme to expand the company's presence in Mexico between 2002 and 2005. The alleged scheme involved a series of payoffs to Mexican city governments, according to an investigation by the New York Times

Greenwashing Walmart
by Pratap ChatterjeeCorpWatch Blog
April 18th, 2012
Is Walmart going green? Mike Duke, the company’s CEO, says in a new 126 page report that the company is becoming more sustainable and responsible while “building meaningful, long-term change.” Activists disagree. Walmart’s “environmental impact has only grown over the last seven years” they say in a counter-report.

Exploiting Indonesia: Adidas for London Olympics 2012
by Pratap ChatterjeeCorpWatch Blog
April 16th, 2012
Adidas, the German sportswear company, is making Olympics uniforms for the UK team at sweatshops in Tangerang city, near the main international airport of Jakarta, Indonesia. Young female workers are paid 5,000 rupiah (54 cents) an hour for a 65 hour work week, according to revelations made in the Independent newspaper.

Dollar Stores: Top Link in the Sweatshop Chain
by Kent PatersonSpecial to CorpWatch
October 6th, 2010
A growing group of chain-store corporations that cater to America's poor with cheap goods are classifying workers as managers. By categorizing employees as salaried managers these dollar stores avoid paying overtime wages that the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates for hourly workers.

Dark Side of the Tourist Boom: Cruise Ship Controversies Cross Borders
by Kent PatersonSpecial to CorpWatch
July 9th, 2008
The Mexican Pacific resort of Zihuatanejo recently cancelled a major new cruise ship terminal, giving a victory to environmental activists and other opponents. However, Mexico remains the world’s Number One cruise ship destination; and with little regulation, allegations of onboard crime, and increasing militarization as regards security while ships are in port, the rapidly expanding industry is facing new challenges.

Target: Wal-Mart Lite
by Kari LydersenSpecial to CorpWatch
April 20th, 2006
Shopping in a Target store, you know you’re not in Wal-Mart. But, critics say that in terms of working conditions, sweatshop-style foreign suppliers, and effects on local retail communities, big box Target stores are very much like Wal-Mart, just in a prettier package.

Jordan's Sweatshops: The Carrot or the Stick of US Policy?
by Aaron GlantzSpecial to CorpWatch
February 26th, 2003
While the world braces for a US war against Iraq, Washington is using its newly inked Free Trade Agreement with Jordan to open sweatshops and secure an ally in the region.

Peddling the E-Ticket to the Development Train
by Sarah AndersonSpecial to CorpWatch
March 8th, 2001
As both the Democratic and Republican parties jockey to win the favor of the high-tech industry, U.S. trade officials under Clinton and now under the Bush Administration have been aggressively promoting high tech's global interests by breaking down barriers to electronic commerce.