Disney has pulled out of Bangladesh, ceasing all production of its branded merchandise following a series of factory accidents in 2012.
The Walt Disney Company made its decision to withdraw before last week’s tragic collapse of a factory building in the city of Savar, which killed more than 400 people.
It’s been revealed the company wrote to vendors and licensees in March to begin transitioning production out of the “highest-risk countries” such as Bangladesh. The firm is aiming to raise safety standards in its supply chain and will also pull out of Ecuador, Venezuela, Belarus, and Pakistan by April 2014.
Last week’s factory collapse was the worst tragedy in the history of Bangladesh’s garment industry.
However, Disney’s decision to move production was reportedly prompted by a November 2012 fire at the Tazreen Fashions Factory in capital Dhaka. A total of 112 people died in the accident. It is also believed a September 2012 fire in a Pakistan factory that killed 262 garment workers was a factor in the decision.
In his letter to vendors, president of Disney Consumer Products Bob Chapek wrote:
“After much thought and discussion we felt this was the most responsible way to manage the challenges associated with our supply chain.”
Disney has said it will continue to source production from other countries such as Cambodia and Haiti. The company states it will only use factories that partner with the Better Work program as run by the International Labor Organization and the International Finance Corporation.
Disney’s decision to pull out of Bangladesh has been criticized by some, with Liana Foxvog, director of SweatFree Communities, writing in The New York Times:
“Disney’s decision to pull out of Bangladesh is shameful and should not be emulated. Global companies have made huge profits by using Bangladeshi factories for years. Now is not the time to walk away. If more companies left, it would be catastrophic for the country’s garment workers, who are already impoverished and have few other job options.”
“Although Disney may not have had that much production in Bangladesh, their policy change may lead to an exodus of other brands. What’s worse, Disney’s decision validates and justifies many factory owners’ practice of hiding their real problems from the global brands.”
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