Inspectors came and went from a Walmart-certified factory in Guangdong Province in China, approving its production of more than $2 million in specialty items that would land on Walmart’s shelves in time for Christmas. But unknown to the inspectors, none of the playful items, including reindeer suits and Mrs. Claus dresses for dogs, that were supplied to Walmart had been manufactured at the factory. Instead, Chinese workers sewed the goods — which had been ordered by the Quaker Pet Group, a company based in New Jersey — at a rogue factory that had not gone through the certification process set by Walmart for labor, worker safety or quality, according to documents and interviews with officials involved.
The building collapse in Bangladesh has renewed the discussion about working conditions around the world. Verite’s CEO Dan Viederman told NEPR’s Susan Kaplan that many things contribute to the country’s problems, including corruption, not enough inspectors and a poor populace.
The software giant Apple is facing what some are calling a Nike moment, following recent press accounts that allege poor working conditions at Foxcomm, one of its suppliers in China. The American Shoemaker Nike, boasted a hip, pop-culture image before it was revealed that the company exploited its overseas workforce. The Amherst based non-profit group Verite tries to help American businesses improve working conditions at their factories. Dan Viederman is CEO of Verite. He says that companies first need to be willing to disclose their employment practices to the outside world. Viederman says Apple has been better than most at transparency.