WITH great fanfare, Coles announced last year it would be the first supermarket chain in Australia to bring men’s and women’s fashions to the grocery aisles.
Six months after the Mix clothing label went on sale, Coles has suspended buying from a textile factory in Bangladesh after revelations workers have been beaten, fired and imprisoned in a battle over wages and other rights.
The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, a US-based organisation, wrote to Coles managing director Ian McLeod last month, outlining allegations of gross abuses.
These included below minimum pay rates of 16¢ to 22¢ an hour, unpaid overtime and holiday leave, and being forced to work up to 84 hours a week. As well, workers were subjected to ”routine sexual harassment, beatings, mass firing, corporal punishment and imprisonment on false charges”.