Binding plan signed to improve supplier safety standards in Bangladesh

Major retailers have agreed on a plan to inspect Bangladesh garment factories to improve safety

Binding plan signed to improve supplier safety standards in Bangladesh
Binding plan signed to improve supplier safety standards in Bangladesh

July 9, 2013

Major clothing retailers have agreed on a plan for inspections of suppliers’ Bangladesh garment factories in a bid to improve safety standards.

A coalition of trade unions – led by IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union – and 70 clothing brands have reportedly taken the next step to implement the accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh.

Signatories to the accord set a 45-day period to draw up and agree on the implementation plan, with a July 8 deadline.

As part of the plan, inspections to identify grave hazards are set to be undertaken.

The accord represents efforts to make the Bangladeshi garment industry safe and sustainable.

Plans for the accord were announced earlier this year after the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed more than 1,000 people.

IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina says the legally-binding accord will cause tangible change.

"Voluntary initiatives have proved insufficient, as 1,800 Bangladeshi garment workers have died in factory fires and building collapses during the past seven years," Raina says.

UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings says the real work must now start.

"The terms of reference and the rules of the accord are set in place, we can now identify the best people and put together the team in Bangladesh who will be charged with carrying out this vital work," Jennings says.

Highlights of the implementation plan include:

  • Completing within nine months initial inspections to identify grave hazards and the need for urgent repairs
  • Implementing an interim procedure to take effect when existing inspection processes or worker reports identify factories that require immediate remediation measures
  • Starting the hiring process for chief safety inspector and executive director positions
  • Establishing a governance structure through a steering committee with equal representation of signatory companies and unions and an advisory board with broad representation in Bangladesh.

About 70 retailers have signed to the plan including Tesco, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Esprit.

The EU recently warned that trade benefits might be reduced if safety was not improved.

The government has also reportedly agreed to an EU plan to this year increase to 800 the number of inspectors, up from 200.

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