Global retailers back safety accord for Bangladesh

Featured South East Asia - May 14th, 2013

European retailers have backed an accord to improve working conditions in Bangladesh after last month’s building collapse that buried alive more than 1,000 people.

Hennes & Mauritz, Inditex and Tesco have initially vowed their support for the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a legally binding agreement led by the International Labour Organization, trade unions and other lobby groups, while several other companies followed suit.

The five-year accord requires public, independent safety inspections, as well as mandatory repairs and renovations of defective buildings, which manufacturers and brands must pay for, reports Quartz.

Industriall and the UNI Global Union, the labour groups behind the agreement, said it hoped several more brands would to join by the deadline on May 15.

“We hope for a broad coalition of signatures in order for the agreement to work effectively on the ground,” a statement from Swedish fashion retailer H&M said. H&M is a major buyer of garments from Bangladesh but did not use any of the suppliers operating in the Rana Plaza, according to Reuters.

The Bangladeshi government on Sunday said it amended the country’s labour law to permit garment workers to form unions and vowed it would soon increase the sector’s minimum wage.

The vows to sign the accord came after more than 1,000 bodies were pulled from the wreckage, with authorities set to officially end rescue and recovery efforts, reports The Associated Press.