BGMEA withdraws Edinburgh Woollen Mill claims
Edinburgh Woollen Mill said this week that the BGMEA group, which represents Bangladeshi garment manufacturers and exporters, has withdrawn its statement that EWM owes many millions in unpaid bills to companies in the country.
However, the group doesn’t appear to have completely stepped back from its earlier claims of money being owed.
In a letter, Rubana Huq, President of BGMEA, said that “EWM has paid their suppliers to a considerable extent but a few EWM suppliers still have raw materials which were booked and are still to be lifted”. There was some confusion howevr as she gave a dollar figure and said the “outstanding [amount] is less than $28 million”, although it had originally quoted almost £27 million in UK pounds.
EWM added that it wanted “urgent clarification around false figures” and sent a follow-up letter to the group saying its “reckless disregard for accuracy in the disclosures to the media has not only caused damage to the EWM Group but will undoubtedly have a catastrophic knock-on effect on our suppliers and their workforces”.
A raft of Western retailers and brands have come in for heavy criticism in recent months as lockdowns and store closures led to order cancellations and some refusals to pay bills.
Certain retailers, including EWM, Primark and H&M, have been at pains to point out that they’ve paid money owed and have made arrangements with suppliers.
But other bills have gone unpaid and The Guardian reported on Thursday that two US-based groups, the Center for Global Workers’ Rights (CGWR) and the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), used previously unpublished import databases to calculate that garment factories and suppliers globally lost at least $16.2bn in revenue between April and June. This was due to orders being cancelled and some companies refusing to pay for goods that had been ordered and made but not yet delivered.
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