“Stop the killing, act now” Clean Clothes Campaign urges brands to sign Safety Agreement

Clean Clothes Campaign is sickened by the preventable collapse of Rana Plaza and condemns brands for their failure to prevent such heavy loss of life once again. Brands must now come forward, ensure emergency steps are taken and pay without delay into a compensation fund for the victims and their families. They must also commit to prevent future disasters.

Clean Clothes Campaign urges brands to sign Safety Agreement

The total compensation figure is likely to be over US$30 million in addition to the cost of emergency treatment. The death toll, already over 300, seems likely to increase dramatically as media reports indicate that 1000 people are still unaccounted for. Our local partners have expressed concern that mismanagement and incorrect accounting by the authorities means that some deaths are not being recorded on the list of deceased. 

The CCC is contacting all brands whose names are linked to one of the five factories that were producing in the building  to verify details of their production.

Five brands have confirmed current or recent production: Bon Marche (UK), El Corte Ingles (Spain), Primark (UK/Ireland), Mango (Spain) and Joe Fresh (clothing line at Loblaw’s, Canada’s largest supermarket chain).

A number of other brands are linked to the factory through import data, labels  and other documentation found at the site by local activists of other brands producing in one of the factories, including Benetton (Italy), Cato Fashions (USA), Children’s Place (USA), Carrefour (France).  So far all deny production or failed to respond.

The CCC calls on all buyers to step forward immediately and to make sure that every effort is taken to minimise the pain and suffering of the people involved and prevent further deaths.

Ineke Zeldenrust from Clean Clothes Campaign says: “Brands can no longer justify any further delay in signing the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.  Since Tazreen, where 112 people died, brands have come up with insufficient proposals such as safety videos (H&M) or a safety academy (WalMart). How much safety does a video provide, when floors collapse or emergency exits do not exist? Workers need a structural solution, not a quick-fix. The lack of action demonstrated by brands amounts to criminal negligence.”

All brands involved should urgently send a representative to Bangladesh to meet with the trade unions and labour organisations working directly with the affected workers to agree on next steps. They should work with Red Cross and other appropriate agencies to make sure the injured receive proper medical attention  and provide access to financial support for those affected.  Brands should also use the leverage they have with the government of Bangladesh to ensure that the government acts with due diligence and supports the trade union leaders' call for the ministry of health to take extraordinary measures to deal with the disaster.

It is essential that the brands involved work together to ensure lists of survivors and deceased workers are created immediately so that compensation and treatment can be provided effectively.

The collapse of the Rana Plaza building once again highlights the failure of corporate social auditing schemes. Two of the factories had been audited by the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), and many of the other brands have auditing schemes in place. Despite repeated fires and building collapses in Bangladesh, brands still rely on company audits to ensure basic fire and building safety regulations are being adhered to.

Therefore, steps must be taken now to review the safety of all suppliers in Bangladesh to prevent further tragedies. The most effective way to do this is for all brands and retailers buying from Bangladesh to immediately sign and implement the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

The Agreement, developed by Bangladeshi and global unions and labour rights organizations, provides for independent inspections of supplier factories, public reporting, training and mandatory repairs and renovations.  It includes a central role for workers and unions in both oversight and implementation including the establishment of worker-led safety committees.  It also takes into account the need for supplier contracts with sufficient financing and adequate pricing, and a binding contract to make these commitments enforceable.