We made it! - Global Breakthrough as Retail Brands sign up to Bangladesh Factory Safety Deal

published 15-05-2013 22:55, last modified 15-05-2013 23:38
Geneva 16 May 2013 – The world’s leading retail labels commit to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh before the midnight deadline. The Accord now covers more than 1000 Bangladeshi garment factories. Implementation starts now!

Clean Clothes Campaign in a powerful alliance with leading unions IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, and Worker Rights Consortium have changed the rules of the game for workers in Bangladesh. We welcome the decision of the companies who have signed up to the Accord for acting responsibly in the light of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Forty-eight hours ago H&M started the ball rolling and we now have the major global household brands on board.

As the countdown closed the following companies had signed on: H&M, Inditex, C&A, PVH, Tchibo, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Primark, El Corte Inglés, jbc, Mango, Carrefour, KiK, Helly Hansen, G-Star, Aldi, New Look, Mothercare, Loblaws, Sainsbury’s, Benetton, N Brown Group, Stockmann, WE Europe, Esprit, Rewe, Next, Lidl, Hess Natur, Switcher, A&F.

Ineke Zeldenrust from Clean Clothes Campaign says: 'The fact that so many brands have signed the legally enforceable safety Accord that has unions and workers at the centre will bring historic change in the Bangladeshi  industry. However, it is a shame that Gap and Walmart have not yet signed the Accord. We strongly encourage them to reconsider their position, as the evidence shows that the programmes they are looking to adopt will completely fail to address the root causes of poor safety in the industry and will marginalise workers. It is not too late for brands to sign the Accord which will mean workers no longer have to fear for their lives each time they enter their factory.'

IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, Jyrki Raina said, “The companies who signed up are to be applauded. H&M showed the way by being the first to sign this week. We will not close the door on brands who want to join the Accord after the deadline but we will be forging ahead with the implementation plan from today. Those who want to join later will not be in a position to influence decisions already made. The train moves on and these companies will drive the process – there can be no uncommitted passengers because the stakes are too high. We are talking improving the working conditions and lives of some of the most exploited workers in the world, earning $38 a month in dangerous conditions.”

UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings said, “We made it! This accord is a turning point. We are putting in place rules that mark the end of the race to the bottom in the global supply chain.”

Commenting on the no-shows Jennings said, “Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is out of step. By not signing up the Walmart brand sinks to a new low. Equally Gap’s refusal to join is a mistake that shoppers will not forget. We will make progress without them.”

In agreeing to the binding programme of fire and building safety reforms based on independent inspections, worker-led health and safety committees and union access to factories, signatories commit to underwrite improvements in dangerous factories and properly confront fire safety and structural problems. Importantly the Accord grants workers the right to refuse dangerous work, in line with ILO Convention 155.

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