Bangladeshi factory worker protests could threaten Target's supply chain


More than three days of violent protests by thousands of garment factory workers in Bangladesh has Target Corp. on alert.

Minnesota Public Radio reports the Minneapolis-based retailer is monitoring the unrest outside of Dhaka, where the company does business with about 35 factories.

A Target spokesperson tells MPR that the company has seen "minimal impact" on its supply chain so far.

On Monday, more than 100 Bangladeshi garment factories were forced to shut down as workers demanded a minimum wage of $100 a month, Reuters reported. The current monthly minimum wage is $38, but wages average $74 per month, Bloomberg reports.

Demonstrators took to the streets Tuesday, blocking roads and damaging vehicles. Police fired teargas and rubber bullets into crowds and some workers responded by throwing bricks. At least 50 people have been injured.

Financial Times reports Bangladeshi manufacturers and foreign buyers have been heavily criticized for the sector's low wages and grim safety record, including a building collapse in April that killed more than 1,100 garment workers.

"The [foreign] brands have a responsibility. They only come here for the low prices but they should do something for the workers," Nazma Akhter of United Garment Workers Federation told Financial Times.

In addition to Target, Wal-Mart, H&M and Gap Inc. source goods from Bangledeshi factories, Bloomberg reports.

“We strongly support the workers demand for higher wages,” H&M spokeswoman Andrea Roos told Bloomberg by e-mail. “Bangladesh is an important sourcing market for H&M and we have on various occasions and also together with other clothing companies, urged the government to raise minimum wages in the textile industry and to revise wages annually.”

In July, a group of North American retailers, including Wal-Mart and Target, said they would refuse to buy from factories deemed unsafe.

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