Retailers Heed Campaigner’s Calls and Vow to Ensure Safety of Factory Workers

Reshma Begum is rescued 17 days after the eight storey building collapse in Savar, Bangladesh. Photo: AFP

Three weeks since the Bangladesh factory collapse, some of the major retailers whose suppliers operated in the factory, have agreed to monitor their suppliers more closely and pay for the necessary repair work.

Amongst the retailers connected to the factory collapse, who have signed up to the agreement are Primark and C&A. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety, initiated by IndustriaALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, requires members to commit to safety standards and good practice.

Swedish fashion retailer H&M, whose suppliers were not involved in the factory collapse, have also signed up to the agreement. Head of Sustainability for H&M, Helena Helmersson said: “The Accord, designed for a five-year period, is a pragmatic step towards addressing improved fire and building safety in the RMG Industry and will add to H&M’s already existing extensive and strict requirements on the suppliers.”

Tesco, who were not involved in the Rana Plaza building collapse either, have said that they will create a £1 million fund for improvements throughout the garment industry in Bangladesh.

In a statement, Tesco Group Commercial Director, Kevin Grace said: “When we uncover poor practice we work to improve it, we do not cut and run. Switching production from country to country when problems surface is not the answer.

“We have a long list of checks we make, but improvement is a constant process so we have consistently strengthened our approach whenever we can.”

The deadline for retailers to sign up for the fire and building safety agreement is tomorrow, 15 May.

Over one thousand people are believed to have died as a result of the tragedy. Reshma Begum, the 19 year old seamstress who spent 17 days trapped in the rubble before being rescued, is believed to be the last known survivor. The rescue mission has now been called off.

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