The Swedish retailer H&M, Spanish Inditex (Zara), British Primark and Tesco, Dutch C&A, and others all announced their commitment to pay for fire safety and building improvements as part of an agreement with the global labor union IndustriALL. The agreement, called “Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh,” also requires independent safety inspections with public reports. Companies also agree to terminate business with any factory that does not complete required upgrades.
H&M is the largest clothing retailer that manufactures their products in Bangladesh and is the second largest worldwide. The largest worldwide retailer is Walmart. Walmart, along with other major US retailers, have announced that they will not participate in the accord. Instead Walmart has decided to perform its own review of factory safety standards, arguing that it will produce results more quickly. The Gap has announced that it would be willing to sign the agreement if a change could be made to its arbitration clause. U.S. retailer PVH which makes Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Izod, announced that they will sign the accord.
The decision to improve standards is the result of an eight story building collapse that killed over 1,100 workers at the end of April, and a small factory fire that killed eight last week. On Monday, rescue efforts for the building collapse ended making the official death toll 1,127.
Media Resources: Bloomberg News 5/15/2013; Guardian 5/15/2013; New York Times 5/14/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/10/2013
Fashion clothing on hangers at the show from Shutterstock