Press release: Global Breakthrough as 31 Retail Brands sign up to Bangladesh Factory Safety Deal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 16.5.13

  • 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!
  • GAP, Asda Walmart, Arcadia and Debenhams yet to sign.

A powerful alliance with leading unions IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, the Clean Clothes Campaign and Worker Rights Consortium, supported by campaigns run by, among others, Avvaz, War on Want, Change.org and People and Planet have changed the rules of the game for workers in Bangladesh.

We welcome the decision of those companies who have signed up to the Accord and commend them for acting responsibly in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Forty-eight hours ago H&M started the ball rolling and we now have most major global household brands on board.

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

Sam Maher from Labour Behind the Label (representing the CCC in the UK) 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. This agreement will mean workers no longer have to fear for their lives each time they enter their factory. We regret that a number of companies including Gap, Walmart, Matalan and Arcadia have not yet signed the Accord.  We strongly encourage them to reconsider their position.

IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, Jyrki Raina says, '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 says, '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. We will go forward 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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Labour Behind the Label is a not-for-profit company Registered in England No. 4173634. Labour Behind the Label's charitable activities are funded by the Labour Behind the Label Trust, which is a charity for tax purposes, HMRC ref. EW02304

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