Fast-fashion chain H&M may have been one of only three large chains with U.S. stores who signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh after a disastrous building collapse on April 24 that killed 1,127 workers. But American Apparel (AMEX:APP) CEO Dov Charney has ripped into the Sweden-based retailer for hypocrisy over workers' wages, according to Kim Bhasin at Huffington Post.
In a podcast released Wednesday (May 29), Charney reacted to a statement by H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson, who said that he wished Bangladesh would raise its minimum wage from $38 to $50 per month but that H&M can't raise wages unilaterally. "Can H&M afford $50 a week?" Charney asked. "They shouldn't be making clothing. If they can't pay $50 a week, don't make clothes."
Charney added: "H&M is a $22 billion corporation—they've amassed an enormous amount of wealth. They don't have to have their hands dirty to the extent that they do." He called on H&M to pay workers overseas the same wages it pays within its home country of Sweden.
Charney has been the target of criticisms himself; he has been accused of union-busting, and his Los Angeles factory pays workers an average of $12 an hour, which some critics charge is just above a U.S. poverty-level wage. (In fairness, it's also 50 percent higher than California's $8 minimum wage—and some 5,000 percent more than the Bangladeshi workers get.)
Charney also tore into his competitors who use the factories in Bangladesh but didn't sign the accord to pay for safety upgrades. "It's about the business leaders at my competitors," he said in the podcast. "I call upon them to do exactly what they said. If they do it, they're men. But they're mice."
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