Factory: A-One BD Ltd.
Key Buyers: Bennetton, Next
Last Updated: 2021
A-One BD Ltd., an Italian-owned supplier to Benetton and Next, located in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone, closed in April 2020 leaving 1,400 workers unemployed. For the first three months of 2020, the factory did not pay workers’ wages. After protesting, they received payment for only two of the three months. In addition, after A-One closed, the factory did not pay workers any of their severance. To date, workers are still waiting for these arrears, which total an estimated $585,200.
Throughout several days and nights in December 2020, over 700 former A-One employees maintained a nonviolent encampment in front of the Dhaka Press Club to bring attention to their plight and demand payment. As is unfortunately commonplace in Bangladesh, the authorities, which have failed to hold the employer accountable for its violation of the law, responded to the workers’ peaceful protest by sending police to attack them. One of the workers, Ashraf Ali, described to the Guardian what happened when the police arrived at 4:30 a.m.: “[A] lot of police came with a water cannon truck and baton charged us as we slept. We were shocked by how sudden it was. Around 30 workers were beaten by police. We didn’t deserve this.”
Next listed A-One as a supplier in its January 2020 public suppliers list. The retailer, however, refuses to acknowledge responsibility for protecting worker rights at this factory, claiming that its last order was completed five months before the factory’s final closure. Benetton says its last delivery was in December 2019; however, Benetton’s website was still listing. A-One as a supplier well after the closure. Given that the factory’s wage theft commenced months before it shut its doors, given that Benetton and Next were both using the factory in its final months, and given that both listed the factory as a supplier into 2020, the brands’ denials of responsibility are hollow.