Just Jeans has been accused of attempting to stifle free speech, as its lawyers move to crack down on satirical images created by Ethical Work Australia.
Ethical Work Australia claims the retailer’s lawyers have reported the organisation’s Facebook and Twitter account for copyright violation.
The move comes as the group ramps up a social media campaign targeting Just Jeans for not signing The Accord, a commitment to meet minimum OHS standards to protect offshore workers.
“Parody is protected in Australia and Just Jeans is using their high paid lawyers to silence free speech,” Ethical Work’s social media moderator, Keelia Fitzpatrick, said.
The Accord on fire building safety in Bangladesh was created in the wake of the Rana Plaza accident which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 workers.
Just Jeans’ actions are a “textbook example of poor social media strategy”, according to Fitzpatrick.
“Rather than responding to our posts calling on the company to sign the Accord, Just Jeans copy and pasted the same response over and over, reported us for copy infringement,” she said.
Fitzpatrick compared Just Jeans’ response to that of Kmart, who she said signed The Accord on the first day and contacted the group.
“They understand the importance of ethical practice, and actually engaging consumers through social media.”
Just Jeans’ has responded to questions and comments regarding its sourcing principles on Facebook, including the post below.
“Over the last couple of days, we have had a number of questions and queries relating to our ethical sourcing. We want to assure our customers and employees that The Just Group was in no way connected to the recent building tragedies in Bangladesh, namely the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse and the fire at the Tazreen Factory. We were deeply saddened to learn of these catastrophic events.
“The Just Group has a long history of global ethical sourcing, and whilst we only have a very small business in Bangladesh, we operate with strict principles and an assurance program which is as outline below”
However consumers were not satiated with the response, with many continuing to ask why the brand would not sign the Accord. The brand then continued to refer to questions back to their original post.
The brands response has attracted criticism with one Facebook user branding the company “unjust jeans”.
Ethical Work is a growing social media campaign that has attracted more than 1,800 members in just over one week.