Viyellatex – A Garments Company
Today we visited a garments factory – Viyellatex. This company is a Bangladeshi garments manufacturing company and one of the highest regarded companies in the country – for their superior products, for their fair and equal treatment of their workers and for their dedication to various community causes including preserving the environment, employing the disabled and being the only Bangladeshi company represented in the United Nations Global Compact.
I was excited to see how garments are made and I learned a lot. I have a new appreciation for the clothes that we wear and the work that goes into making them and preparing them for purchase.
Viyellatex is a start to finish production company. They purchase the cotton mostly from the United States and Africa and some from India. They do not purchase any cotton from sanctioned countries because they do not want any child labor being part of their products. Once the cotton is purchased, Viyellatex does the spinning, knitting, dyeing, washing, printing, embroidery and accessories (buttons, etc.). Some of their partners include Puma, ESPRIT, S. Oliver, PVH (Calvin Klein, IZOD, Bass, Arrow, VanHeusen), Woolworths and G-Star Raw Denim. However, I was much more impressed with their dedication to the environment and to treating their workers fairly.
Viyellatex employs about 13,000 workers; 1354 in management and 10,903 in workers. 6,220 of the workers are women – meeting one of the United Nations Development Goals of hiring more women. The managers are mostly men (only 78 women), however, Viyellatex cites the cultural norms and desires of women to be married, avoid the notoriously hard labor of a garments factory and family pressures and responsibility as reasons that more women are not on the management staff.
In Bangladesh, the government rule for garments worker is an eight hour day and a six-day work week totaling a 48-hour work week. The minimum wage is 3,000 tk per month – about $43 US. Viyellatex has a 10-hour day and a six-day work week totaling a 60-hour work week, however, they pay all of their workers 20% (3,600 tk or $52 US) more than the government minimum in addition to several other benefits:
- Free Lunch for all
- 5% profit sharing with workers (all workers are part owners)
- Life Insurance Plan
- Child Care Facilities
- Hospital Benefits
- Transportation Benefits
- Medical Benefits – including maternity leave and pre-natal treatment
- On-site gym
Viyellatex also has a special commitment to empowering girls and women. They have trained and employed over 34 physically challenged girls and ensure equal pay and advancement opportunities for women.
Viyellatex has several green initiatives that they carry-out continuously that save energy, cut costs and reduces their impact on the environment. They hope to be a carbon-neutral company by 2015! Viyellatex saves about 2 million US dollars each year through their green initiatives. Some of the green initiatives are:
- The boiler uses waste steam: as the boiler is used, the steam or condensation is collected and redirected back to the boiler for use.
- They use a cogeneration boiler which saves energy and reduces carbon
- The chiller uses gas generator exhaust which allows for continuous air conditioning (a real luxury in Bangladesh)
- The fabric dryer exhaust reduces gas feed by being redirected to an air inlet and burner
- Effluent water is treated and then reused for toilet flushing which saves 90 million liters a year in ground water usage
- The 250,00 square foot rooftop serves as a giant rainwater collection reservoir that is used in dyeing and washing fabric. This saves 45 million liters of water every year.
- Waste Recycling Project: all waste from the worker café is collected and shipped to an off-site compost where it is turned into natural fertilizer. The natural fertilizer is then sold to Ruthna Tea Estate, which is owned by Viyellatex. Any remaining is sold to local farmers.
- Viyellatex is planting 5 million new trees at the tea estate that will consume the carbon the company produces.
- All florescent lights are being converted to LED lights
- CRT monitors are being replaced by LCD monitors
Overall, from top-to-bottom, Viyellatex thinks about their community and works to make sure that they do not sacrifice values for profit. Click here for more information about Viyellatex.