March 25, 2008 —
As Banana Republic prepared to open its first stores in the UK last week, new allegations broke concerning the company's use of sweatshop labor. War on Want, a British non-profit specializing in poverty issues concerning the global south, revealed the results of its investigation into the retailer's operations in India. Workers there are said to be subjected to 70 hour weeks at as little as 26 cents per hour, with their overtime wages are routinely withheld.
Banana Republic, which is owned by Gap Inc. — itself the subject of a child labor scandal last year — has pledged to investigate the allegations, but War on Want says that workers are forced to lie to investigators about their hours and compensation. As for Gap, promises to set a new standard for labor practices in the clothing industry seem, at least thus far, to have been empty.