Photo: Courtesy of 18 Million Rising.
Shortly after Gap Inc.'s annual shareholder meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, online organizers sent out a fraudulent press release claiming the company had signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Of course, it hadn't.
The agreement, created to ensure safe workspaces in the wake of April 2013's deadly Rana Plaza factory collapse, counts 150 apparel corporations — including Abercrombie & Fitch, Benetton, Primark, and Inditex — as signatories. But, last year, Gap and Walmart introduced their own version — a five-year plan that draws from a $42 million fund and has been criticized, by groups like 18 Million Rising (18MR), as hardly enough.
The online organization of Asian American Pacific Islanders crafted the statement, titled "Gap Inc. Signs Bangladesh Accord," which reads, in part: "We ask other brands and retailers to join with us in the accord to work together to prevent further terrible tragedies in Bangladesh. We are committed to compensating the families of those who have lost their lives and those injured in our supply chain," WWD reports. The press release was linked to www.gapdoesmore.com (also an 18MR production), a now-deactivated site that announced Gap "would be paying individual workers in Bangladesh compensation," and touted a fake letter from chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy.
Gap Inc. later clarified that the website and its accompanying Twitter handle (also suspended) were unauthorized, and 18MR took responsibility, writing, "The facts are that Gap Inc. has made no move to sign the legally binding Bangladesh Accord, or to pay the compensation it owes for lives lost at Aswad despite ongoing international protest from garment industry workers and activists." The group goes on to accuse Gap of dodging questions, like "Why has the company refused to compensate the families of injured and deceased factory workers? Why does the company continue to avoid signing the Bangladesh Accord — choosing instead to collaborate with Walmart, a corporation notorious for creating fronts for unregulated, false accountability?"