Amazon selling clothes from Bangladesh factories where workers are 'trapped'

Amazon is in the spotlight again. The retailer is accused of selling clothes on its website from factories in Bangladesh and elsewhere where working conditions are unsafe.

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After a 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 people, major retailers like Target and Walmart joined safety-monitoring groups that required them to stop selling from manufacturers that violated certain safety standards.

Amazon opted out and officials in the industry have taken notice.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal used global shipping records, Amazon.com data, factory-inspection reports and interviews with sources in the New York and Bangladesh garment industries to trace how Amazon sells clothes and other products.

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The report traced products sold on Amazon to a factory in Chittagong, Bangladesh, where managers are able to lock workers inside and that doesn’t have fire alarms.

One 18-year-old worker said she spends 12 hours a day stitching shirts with about 300 others: "You're trapped inside until the time you complete the orders," she told the Journal.

The report also found apparel on Amazon made in factories that have neglected safety violations like decaying buildings, broken alarms and missing sprinklers and fire barriers.

Items sold from unsafe factories were also found on Walmart.com, however, and garments from one banned factory were listed by Target, too.

In addition to its own platform, Amazon uses a third-party marketplace made up of millions of individual sellers to sell to customers. Many are anonymous and not subject to some of the oversight Amazon places on its own brands.

More than two-thirds of the items sold through Amazon from unsafe factories were offered by third-party sellers. And of those items, many are marketed under little-known brand names like China-based XMYIFOR.

Amazon said that while it opted out of safety-monitoring groups, it still enforces the same standards, with a particular spotlight on its own branded products.

"Amazon is committed to sourcing our private brands from socially responsible suppliers and working with brand owners, vendors and manufacturers that share this commitment," a representative told FOX Business.

The company's supply chain standards "outline requirements and commitments, including [those] that our suppliers provide workers with a safe and healthy work environment."

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Since 2018, Amazon has conducted more 150 independent third-party assessments using globally accepted protocols its own audits at factories in Bangladesh, which include supplemental visits with fire and electrical experts.

"We also expect that the tens of millions of fashion products in our store that are not Amazon private brands are manufactured according to our Supply Chain Standards," the spokesperson said. "If we become aware that a product is from a factory that may not meet our standards, we will remove the product from our store until we have evidence that it is produced with the same high standards we apply in our own supply chain."

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