18 Oct - UPDATE - Some GREAT NEWS / Big W Response and my reply

18 October - UPDATE - Some GREAT NEWS

See this link at the OXFAM website to read more about the GREAT NEWS that Australia's Woolworths and Big W have FINALLY signed the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord.


Oxfam has said that the response from Australians has been hugely encouraging in that many big companies have now willingly, or through customer pressure, signed the agreement to ensure safety for the overseas workers who have no voice for themselves.

We need to remember that us stopping buying clothes made in Bangladesh (certainly what I've felt like doing) is NOT the answer to helping the poor garment workers to make a living and support their families. Pressuring the companies we buy from to take responsibility for where and how their clothes are made (and where the cloth is sourced from) IS our responsibility. Telling them you will boycott their stores UNTIL they sign is something they will take very seriously.

Oxfam has noted that Australian companies JayJays, Bonds and Best and Less are yet to sign the agreement.

You know what to do people!

* * *

After sending my form letter to the Australian retailer Big W requesting information regarding their commitment to ethical manufacturing practises. They emailed me this response:

Hi Sarah
Thank you for taking the time to contact BIG W.
BIG W has long-standing contracts with only a small number of respected suppliers in Bangladesh who share our commitment to meeting quality assurance and ethical sourcing requirements.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused and appreciate your patience.

To contact us back with other queries or feedback, please visit our

Kind regards,
Should  I have been happy with this response? Basically a 'trust us, we know what we're doing..".
After a couple of days thinking about how they had answered my letter, Big W sent me a survey asking me how I felt about their handling of my enquiry. Here is part of my response to the question, how could they have dealt with my query better.
Dear Big W,
I understand that you have commercial interests that must be protected when revealing details about your manufacturing processes etc. However, if your processes and working conditions were all fair, non-exploitative and conducted with due regard for the safety of your workers - why not make this public and use it as a marketing tool? Show Australians that you are a company that places the welfare of your suppliers and their workers as a top priority - that you don't make profits at the expense of people struggling to earn a living in the developing world and that you conduct your purchasing processes with integrity. By doing that you allow us as consumers to feel that we are not part of something shameful and threatening every time we go to you to pick up a cheap pair of socks or a tee-shirt. Currently I am avoiding your shop because I can't be sure you are not involved in practises like those that lead to the disaster in Bangladesh. And I will continue to stay away (and tell my friends to do the same) until I can hear some information from you that is trustworthy and doesn't treat me like an idiot.
Thank you for listening.


  1. So disappointed with their response - they said they intended to sign the accord back in June - almost 5 months ago and they still haven't, it's a disgrace!

    1. A good result finally Bek. Hopefully it was correspondence like yours and mine that helped to make a difference.
      Don't forget to write and tell them you're pleased they signed... And let them know we're still watching... :-)


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