Activists Worldwide Protest Unsafe H&M Factories

Jasmin Malik Chua

On the day of H&M’s annual shareholder meeting, activists from cities worldwide poured into the streets to demand that the Swedish retailer live up to its promise to keep Bangladesh garment workers safe. Three years after H&M led the signing of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, forged in the aftermath of Rana Plaza’s deadly collapse, a new reportclaims that the majority of its supplier factories in Bangladesh are still death traps. Despite some modicum of progress, such as the removal of lockable doors and most collapsible gates, the Clean Clothes CampaignInternational Labor Rights ForumMaquila Solidarity Network, and Worker Rights Consortium say that almost all of the retailer’s factories remain behind schedule in carrying out mandated—and life-saving—renovations. According to a new analysis from the labor groups, 69 percent of H&M’s strategic suppliers have yet to complete the installation of all fire-rated doors, which would provide safe egress for workers in the factories... 

“As a result of campaign pressure, H&M is showing new levels of transparency, which is laudable,” Foxvog said. “However, the numbers they are releasing now are not only considerably lower than the numbers we retrieved for its most trusted suppliers, they also make H&M’s earlier reassuring communication look questionable. H&M also still fails to inform us on what the company itself is doing to speed up the renovations.”

In light of the delays, the four labor groups want H&M to not only provide a “realistic timeline” for the completion of the renovations, but also disclose the financing it’s given its suppliers to facilitate repairs... 

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