DHAKA, Bangladesh — A hooded Mickey Mouse sweatshirt from Disney. Children’s shorts with Walmart’s Faded Glory label. Clothes with hip-hop star Sean Combs’ ENYCE tag.
The garment factory in Bangladesh where 112 people were killed in a fire over the weekend was used by a host of major US and European retailers, an Associated Press reporter discovered on Wednesday from clothes and account books left amid the blackened tables and melted sewing machines at Tazreen Fashions Ltd.
Walmart had been aware of safety problems at the factory and said it had decided well before the blaze to stop doing business with it.
But it said a supplier had continued to use Tazreen without authorization.
Sears, likewise, said its merchandise was being produced there without its approval through a vendor, which has since been fired.
The Walt Disney Co. said its records indicate that none of its licensees have been permitted to make Disney-brand products at the factory for at least a year. Combs’ Sean Jean Enterprises did not return calls for comment.
The tragedy at the beginning of the holiday season is putting a spotlight on dangerous workplace conditions around the world.
There are no clear answers to how consumers should react or who is ultimately responsible given the way many major retailers rely on a long and complex chain of manufacturers and middlemen to keep their shelves stocked.
Labor activists have long contended that retailers in the West bear a responsibility to make sure the overseas factories that manufacture their products are safe.
They seized on the blaze — the deadliest in Bangladesh’s nearly 35-year history of exporting clothing — to argue that retailers must insist on more stringent fire standards.