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in brief: australian retailers linked to unsafe factories in bangladesh

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Image via Reuters

A number of Australian retailers are being accused of sourcing garments from unsafe factories in Bangladesh. An ABC Four Corners report has revealed that workers are being threatened, and in some cases, physically abused, in factories used by brands such as Coles, Target, and Kmart.

The report showed that Australian brands ordered clothes from sweatshops in the city of Dhaka that did not meet international standards. Cotton On, Rivers, and Big W were all named in the report.

Big Boss was one factory investigated in the report. Big Boss manufactures clothes for Big W and Cotton On. The owner told Four Corners that it is possible to find a better factory than his, with no subcontracting and better conditions, but to get that, both manufacturers and consumers would have to pay more.

According to a survey by Oxfam, more than 70% of Australians would be willing to pay more for clothing if it meant that workers were guaranteed a safe work environment and increased by. Furthermore, 84% of Australians want retailers to sign onto an accord to ensure safety standards were met in Bangladeshi factories.

Kmart, Target, Forever New and Cotton On have signed onto the safety accord, but Big W is yet to do so.

The revelations regarding Australia’s involvement in the sweatshop industry come just months after a factory collapse killed more than 1000 workers. More recently, workers from multiple factories have been hospitalised after drinking contaminated water.

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