Fire fighters hose smouldering remains after a devastating fire at the dyeing section of two-storey Aswad Composite Mills at Maona, Gazipu in October 2013.
A group advocating the rights of Asian workers used a fake organization called "Gap Does More" to pose as the clothing retailer and send out a press release claiming to donate money to victims of a factory fire in Bangladesh.
The group 18MillionRising — the figure refers to the number of Asians and Pacific islanders in the U.S. — claimed responsibility for the prank, which occurred during the Gap shareholders meeting. The organization was attempting to call attention to the fact that Gap has not compensated victims of the October 2013 Aswad Composite Mills factory fire, which resulted in 10 deaths and dozens of injuries.
Gap Does More issued a fake press release on Tuesday that made it sound like Gap Inc. was giving $200,000 to the victims:
We take our commitment to improving working conditions in Bangladesh very seriously. In fact, we were among the first global brands to take tangible actions in the country. In October 2012, Gap Inc. launched a robust Building and Fire Safety Plan, and to date, we have completed fire and building safety inspections at the approved factories in Bangladesh where we do business. We also want and expect our impact to be broader than these factories. That is why Gap Inc. is a founding member of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and why we are also signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. 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. Just as we provided compensation following the That’s It Sportswear fire in December 2010, we will be providing $200,000 in compensation to those affected by the Aswad Composite Mills fire in October 2013.
The figure was apparently meant to be insultingly paltry, but some still reported it at face value.
In response, Gap Inc. issued its own statement, calling the account and website a hoax and directing consumers to its real site addressing its treatment of workers in Bangladesh.
Gap Inc. recently discovered a fraudulent website, www.gapdoesmore.com, and its accompanying social media property, (at)gapdoesmore. These sites are not authorized by Gap Inc. or any of its brands. We are investigating the source of these fake digital properties.
The Gap Does More website is also a subtle parody in itself. The slogan "Do more than sell clothes" at first sounds like a corporate mission statement, but can also be read as a demand on behalf of victims. A chart also reveals that "over 1,800 preventable deaths have occurred in Bangladesh garment factories since 2005."
The Aswad Composite Mills factory produced clothes for Walmart and Loblaw, owner of the Hudson Bay Co. label, and Gap confirmed it has produced clothes there in the past. The company issued a statement shortly after the fire noting that, while it has worked with parent company Palmal Group, it was producing no garments there at the time. "On occasion in the past small quantities of Gap Inc. product have been made with fabric from the mill where the fire occurred," according to the statement.
However, the activist group is pushing Gap to compensate victims anyway in a blog post that it published shortly after Gap Does More sent out the fake release.
"The facts are that Gap Inc. has made no move to sign the legally binding Bangladesh Accord," the post reads, "or to pay the compensation it owes for lives lost at Aswad despite ongoing international protest from garment industry workers and activists."