Group supporting Bangladesh factory workers protests outside Children’s Place Secaucus headquarters
A small group of protesters tried to bring their message of support for victims of the Bangladesh factory collapse to the annual shareholder meeting of clothing retailer The Children’s Place, Inc. in Secaucus this morning, but were not allowed past the lobby.
The protest was staged by eight people representing the International Labor Rights Forum, the United Students Against Sweatshops, and worker solidarity group 99 Pickets. Protesters lay down on the floor of the lobby of the Children’s Place headquarters at 500 Plaza Drive and covered themselves with makeshift shrouds to represent dead factory workers. Others chanted “Mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, what’s the discount on their lives.” The group was escorted out of the building by the Secaucus police without incident.
While protesters lingered outside the building, the company’s board of directors held their annual meeting, which began at 8:30 a.m. and lasted less than 15 minutes. No shareholders raised any questions at the meeting, and a company spokesman said all of the shareholder questions were approved, including the election of three members of the board. Shareholders also approved proposals approving executive compensation, providing for annual election of directors, and to change the official name of the company to The Children’s Place, Inc. from The Children’s Place Retail Stores, Inc.
A company spokesman said the vote totals on the proposals would be released later today or tomorrow in a Securities and Exchange filing.
More than 1,100 people were killed in April, 2013 when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed. The Children’s Place and other clothing retailers have been targeted by advocates for the Bangladesh victims because custom documents showed they received goods manufactured at the factory. The Children’s Place has contributed $500,000 to a fund for the factory collapse victims but advocacy groups believe the company’s owes at least $8 million in compensation. Groups staged a protest in April where they brought one of the workers injured in the collapse to the company’s headquarters.
The company said in April that as a member of the retail Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety it is “making a large and long-term commitment to improve safety conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers.” The alliance, according to a statement by The Children’s Place, has committed nearly $50 million for a worker safety fund and made $100 million of affordable capital available for factory upgrades.
Eric Dirnbach, a member of 99 Pickets and the International Labor Rights Forum, said the protest this morning was part of an ongoing effort to convince The Children’s Place to pay additional compensation to the injured workers and the families of the deceased and to sign a factory safety pact endorsed by major European retailers.
Rutgers student Samantha Son, 19, of Little Falls, a member of United Students Against Sweatshops, was among the protestors. The student group has worked to get Rutgers and other colleges to not sell collegiate merchandise produced in sweatshops. Son said she came to the protest to show “solidarity with the cause” of the Bangladeshi victims.
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