updated 6/17/2005 5:46:56 PM ET 2005-06-17T21:46:56

Statements from Wal-Mart
Note: This is a compilation of two statements

Wal-Mart has strict standards for suppliers and a strong factory certification program designed to help ensure that the factories we use meet or exceed all local labor, environmental and other laws and thus provide decent working conditions.  We are not always successful in preventing violations of our standards, but when we discover violations or they are brought to our attention, we take prompt corrective actions….

We strongly believe that our business -- and the wages and benefits we provide -- have helped to improve the lives of many thousands of workers in many parts of the world.  In Bangladesh, for example, 80 percent of the factories that supply Wal-Mart now have on-site child-care facilities and medical clinics staffed by health professionals.  Wal-Mart has been diligent in enforcing the national law in Bangladesh requiring paid maternity leave for workers, and average pay in the factories we use is 2-3 times higher than the country's minimum wage.

Wal-Mart inspects more factories than anyone – more than 12,500 in 2004, or more than 30 a day. 

We don’t condone any violations of our standards, and we act quickly to correct problems we discover or that are brought to our attention.

In the case of the factory cited in the Dateline report, we had inspected this factory in 2004 (using an outside, third-party inspector) and had identified numerous violations of standards.  We worked with the factory to ensure better performance, and a follow-up inspection had shown correction.  Both inspections apparently occurred before Dateline's visit.  We inspect frequently -- often without notice -- and discontinue business with factories that will not take corrective action.

Meeting the needs of our customers for low-cost merchandise while at the same time ensuring proper workplace standards is an ongoing challenge that we and other retailers are committed to meet.

With respect to the allegation of the Rising Group executive: "It is a totally unsubstantiated claim that should be given no credibility. Wal-Mart discusses prices with suppliers in a responsible manner that takes many factors into consideration."

Statement from Sara Lee

In order to meet consumer demand, we produce apparel in our own facilities, with contractors and with licensees, like the one that made the pants Dateline chose.  In a licensee relationship, the company that owns the brand approves the design and establishes the quality requirements.  In our case, we also contractually require the licensee to meet our global business standards.  That’s nonnegotiable for us.

When Dateline contacted us after the show’s trip to Bangladesh we re-confirmed with the licensee that it was in compliance with our required business practices standards.  The licensee provided copies of Bangladesh facility audits, which included evidence that they had met standards required by the retailer.  Nonetheless, we hired a highly regarded, third-party firm to conduct an independent assessment of the plant to confirm for ourselves that the plant meets appropriate standards.

We can tell you that our expectation is that each plant we own operates fully under our global business standards and expect those who do business with us to do the same.

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