Business

Lululemon investigates reports of abuse in Bangladesh garment factory

by Huw Hughes
16 Oct 2019

Lululemon has said it is investigating one of its Bangladesh factories following reports that female workers were being physically and verbally abused.

Young female workers said they faced physical violence and verbal abuse while working at one of the Canadian athleisure brand’s factories, according to an investigation by The Guardian. Workers also said they were forced to work overtime and paid about 9,100 taka a month (85 pounds) - less than the cost of a pair of Lululemon’s leggings.

The factory where the alleged abuse took place, which is in Chittagong, about 260 km from the capital Dhaka, is owned and run by the Youngone Corporation, which supplies Lululemon’s clothing. Since the report, Lululemon said there are currently no orders planned for the factory.

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest Readymade Garment (RMG) exporter, behind China, and relies on the industry for more than 80 percent of exports.

In August, the president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said that only 200 out of 1,500 garment factories in the country had met safety requirements for workers set out by an international accord.

The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety is a legally-binding pact signed by 200 fashion companies following the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013 that resulted in the deaths of over 1,100 garment factory workers.

Lululemon to investigate Bangladesh factory conditions

“Members of Lululemon’s social responsibility and production team visited the factory in Bangladesh immediately to speak with workers and learn more,” a Lululemon spokesperson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by e-mail. “We will work with an independent non-profit third party to fully investigate the matter. While our production at this factory is extremely limited, we will ensure workers are protected from any form of abuse and are treated fairly.”

Earlier this month, Lululemon partnered with the United Nations Foundation on an initiative to address the health of UN Humanitarian Aid workers. The company has committed one million US dollars over the next three years to Peace on Purpose - an evidence-based programme that provides access to self-care tools and resources to UN workers who serve on the front lines of urgent global challenges.

For its second quarter of the year, Lululemon reported net revenue of 883.4 million dollars, an increase of 22 percent compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2018. The company upped its sales and profits forecast for the full-year and now expects net revenue to be in the range of 3.8 to 3.84 billion dollars.

Photo credit: Luluemon