According to Pro Publica, Walmart accepted shipments from factories in Bangladesh unsafe for workers despite explicit promises not to. This violation of Walmart’s own stated policy comes shortly after the world’s attention fell on Bangladesh’s troubled manufacturing sector with the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people.

The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, last month released a list of more than 200 factories it said it had barred from producing its merchandise because of serious or repeated safety problems, labor violations or unauthorized subcontracting.

But at least two of the factories on the list have continued to send massive shipments of sports bras and girls’ dresses to Walmart stores in recent months, according to interviews and U.S. customs records.
Walmart’s defense is pretty lame even by corporate PR standards. The manufacturer switched labels so there was “confusion.” Because no one trying to evade a ban ever thought of that before.

In June 2011, Walmart said, it banned the Bangladeshi garment factory Mars Apparels from producing goods for the retail giant. But over the last year, Mars has repeatedly shipped tons of sports bras to Walmart, according to U.S. customs records and Mars owners. The most recent shipment was in late May, almost two years after Walmart claims it stopped doing business with the Bangladeshi firm…

Walmart spokesman Kevin Gardner said the Mars shipments were allowed because of confusion over whether Walmart’s standards applied. Mars didn’t produce garments with a Walmart house brand but instead with a Fruit of the Loom label. So, Gardner said, it wasn’t clear if Mars needed to meet Walmart’s standards or Fruit of the Loom’s.

When in doubt, take the merchandise?

The revelations of Walmart’s failure to comply with its own standards relating to worker safety could not come at a worse time. Walmart is in the middle of a labor dispute with workers and Bangladesh was already being noted as an example of Walmart’s apathy towards workers rights and safety.