With 7 Workers Dead in Another Preventable Fire, Labor Rights Groups Implore Apparel Brands and Retailers to Sign Fire Safety Agreement

“The recurring fires give us a clear picture that the initiative by
the government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters
Association to curb the death toll is too little and too late. The
government, BGMEA, and western retailers need to act rapidly to stop the
killings and to ensure a safe workplace for our workers,” said Kalpona
Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity.

Labor rights advocates have for years been calling on these and other
US brands and retailers to finance the major renovations and repairs
needed to make Bangladesh’s apparel factories safe. Two companies, PVH
(owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) and the German retailer
Tchibo, have signed the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement,
which provides for such financing, bans production at any factory that
refuses to make needed safety repairs, and requires public disclosure of
the results of all factory inspections. While Walmart and other
companies say they are taking action to protect workers, labor groups
challenge the validity of those claims, pointing out that the companies
have made no enforceable commitments, refuse to pay for factory
renovations, and won’t make the names of their factories in Bangladesh
and the results of their safety audits public. 

Asked Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium,
“How many more workers have to die before the Walmart, Gap, H&M and
the other big retailers finally commit to pay for the reforms that are
needed to make the industry in Bangladesh safe?”

So far, no brand or retailer has stepped forward to acknowledge a
relationship with Smart Export Garments. The factory reportedly had 350
to 400 workers and was likely producing goods for US and European brands
and retailers. ILRF, WRC and CCC said that the companies that used the
factory should immediately take responsibility and commit to aid the

Said Ineke Zeldenrust from CCC, “All the key buyers in Bangladesh
have been involved in deadly fires in the past years; however they
refuse to make the systemic changes necessary to their sourcing and
monitoring practices to ensure that buildings are upgraded and workers
can freely speak out and report safety violations. Instead, they go for
cosmetic changes that merely scratch the surface.”




re: With 7 Workers Dead in Another Preventable Fire, Labor Right

Since posting this, we've learned that teenagers died in the fire (http://www.newagebd.com/detail.php?date=2013-01-27&nid=38104#.UQROk-gZzeI) and that the factory produced clothing for several European brands:

"The unlicensed garment factory in the Bangladesh capital where seven women workers died in a fire on Saturday was making clothing for Spanish giant Inditex and several French brands.

"An AFP correspondent sifting through the charred remains of the Smart Export factory on Sunday found labels such as Bershka, a retailer owned by Inditex; Sol’s; Scott and Fox; and G Blog, which is part of France’s Gemo." (Source: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/international/foreign-labels-found-in-latest-bangladesh-factory-fire/567938 )