In 2011, Walmart decided that paying suppliers more to help them upgrade their manufacturing facilities was too costly — according to Bloomberg.
Fast forward a year, and a fire at a Bangladesh factory — that made clothes for Walmart among other global retailers — killed more than 100 people.
The April 2011 Dhaka meeting has resurfaced amid renewed pressure on Bangladeshi manufacturing companies to upgrade their safety conditions, since more than 700 garment workers have died in that country alone since 2005.
According to Bloomberg, during the 2011 meeting, retailers discussed a "contractually enforceable memorandum" that would have required Walmart and other global corporations to pay Bangladeshi factories prices high enough to cover costs of safety improvements.
But Sridevi Kalavakolanu, a Walmart director of ethical sourcing, reportedly told attendees the company wouldn’t share the cost — a position she and her counterpart at Gap reiterated in a subsequent report.
“Specifically to the issue of any corrections on electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500 factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories [...] it is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments,” they said in the report — according to Bloomberg News.
Weight in: Are these multinational companies partly to blame for the tragedy in Bangladesh?