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Major Australian retailers have caused mass controversy by selling polo shirts for as little as $2.00 each, with customers calling for a boycott of all Target and Kmart stores.

The controversy is fuelled by fears that the dramatically decreased prices are as a result of factory workers potentially being underpaid and the provided with substandard working conditions.

Image source: Facebook
Image source: Facebook

The Daily Mail reports that both Target and Kmart are marketing the cheap items as part of their respective ‘Back to School’ campaigns.  The shirts are marked as made in Bangladesh, where it is well documented that wages can be half what is considered to be a ‘living wage’ for the population.

Similarly, The Age newspaper is also reporting that Kmart is selling $5.00 button-up shirts made in Bangladesh.

Customers have hit out at the retailers with outrage online, with some individuals sharing their disgust and calling for a public boycott of the stores involved.

Image source: Facebook
Image source: Facebook

One Twitter user wrote to Target saying:

“Someone else behind a sewing machine is paying for your discount.”

Another person wrote on Kmart Australia’s Facebook page that they are ‘monsters’.  “How about NOT using slave labour? Appalling human rights abuses.”

The Kmart and Target Facebook pages were both targeted by one customer who wrote asking how they can possibly manage to “manufacture, ship, distribute and stock’ a polo shirt for just $2.”

Image source: Facebook
Image source: Facebook

A Target Australia spokesperson told The Daily Mail in a recent interview that:

“Target Australia is committed to ensuring transparency and safe working conditions in our factories overseas. We do not put price before factory worker welfare.”  The spokesperson said, “We measure factories against our code of conduct and undertake regular announced and unannounced audits.”

Both Target and Kmart have declined to comment on which factories their polo shirts are sourced from in Bangladesh, however they have both stated that there is no cause for concern about the factories involved.  

Both retailers were amongst the first to join the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord, which was formed following the 2013 collapse of a factory building in Rana Plaza which killed 1127 workers.  

However, the Accord itself focuses on worker safety and does not ensure a company’s compliance with living wage pay rates, within the supply chain.

Speaking with The Daily Mail, Joy Kyriacou, the Finance for Development Manager for Oxfam said, “Very few factory workers in developing countries are paid a living wage.  We understand that Target and Kmart pay the legal minimum [wage] in Bangladesh, however this is far below even the most conservative calculation of what a living wage would be.”

In Bangladesh the national minimum wages is just $98 a month – 45 per cent lower than a living wage.  The living wage, is the calculated wage that allows an individual to afford basic food, water, shelter, clothing, transport, education and health services.

Target and Kmart are yet to make a public statement regarding the factory which manufactures the items in question.


Image source: Getty Images & Facebook.

  • It is hard to make decisions on some of these products.

    Reply

  • It’s so hard when people are on a limited budget. It’s not like they want people in other countries to suffer but they are also trying to look after their families the best they can.

    I believe these big corporations need more accountability in this area. I watched the documentary about the Bangladeshi garment factory that collapsed years ago and it was truly horrific.

    Reply

  • Can anybody suggest where to buy plain polos from if not target or kmart? I am purchasing shorts and pants from stubbies but not really sure about polos.
    The uniform shop ones are prohibitively expensive for our school

    Reply

  • I must say that I have been quite surprised at how low these stores prices have become – it will be see how this story unfolds…

    Reply

  • It is up to the individual if they buy for some families this something they can afford but is the quality good, will it last. These stores would be doing their best, maybe they are getting people in to get other things. Just like groceries stores do.

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  • I must admit my first thought when I saw the ad for $2 polo shirts was concern for the workers in third world countries who are probably getting paid a pittance for their labour. I believe it is the responsibility of the retailer to ensure they are not exploiting workers for their own profit.

    Reply

  • I think you can’t blame Kmart or Target but it’s us the customets who decide how the market is working. When those customers suddenly would stop buying this products, those who make this items in Bangladesh are without jobs and the orders will stop…


    • yeah many will lose their jobs. i think that company’s need to stop their greed. it really is a catch 22 though.

    Reply

  • It’s not just their school uniforms, it’s all their clothes. Shop at Kmart or target often? Check the tags. All of them say made in Bangladesh. It’s never been an issue before, I don’t know why it’s becoming an issue now. If you would rather put the money in to buying more expensive shirt, by all means, that’s your own decision.
    However some low income families can only afford the cheaper version of uniforms. Be thankful that they are doing their best to have their children enrolled in a public school, where, as we know, uniforms are compulsory, and they’re just doing what they can for their children to be in uniform as required.


    • I suggest you check the labels on big brand clothes too. You will be very lucky to find any Aust. made. Some of the big brands that you think would be made in Aust. no longer are. If you find any that are also 100% cotton you deserve a medal. A big % of the clothes made in Aust. don’t even contain any natural fibres. Aust. doesn’t have the water resources to grow cotton for clothes to be made here. Target and Kmart would be selling uniform clothes under cost price hoping people will buy goods with higher mark-ups. An expert on a sewing machine could stitch one of these literally in minutes. are they have been cut out. Most professionals don’t pin the fabric together like the average person does.

    Reply

  • Like the other comment said they might be selling at a loss to get people in the store where generally they end up purchasing something else which gives them a profit. But honestly they can’t win even if they were real expensive people would complain.


    • yep that is right! can’t please everybody

    Reply

  • I’d like to believe this is a loss leader – ie, they sell at a loss to get people into the shop. Hope that’s the case.

    Reply

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