Yesterday, a deadly factory fire broke out at a clothing factory in Bangladesh that makes clothes for global brands like Gap, Asda, and Woolworth's. So far, 8 bodies have been recovered.
Since the Tazreen factory fire last November, we've joined with activists around the world and pleaded for apparel brands to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, which could make tragedies like this a thing of the past. In the wake of the horrific Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed more than 1,000 workers, more than 80 companies agreed to serious reforms, but some brands have dragged their feet or pushed a non-binding PR stunt of a safety plan. Now Bangladeshi workers are paying the price with their lives.
The media is just starting to report on the latest tragedy. Let’s make sure that as the news breaks, tens of thousands of consumers are putting the blame squarelywhere it belongs -- on the shoulders of greedy apparel companies like Gap, Walmart/Asda, and Woolworth's. It shouldn't take more deaths to convince them to protect their workers by signing the Accord.
The Fire and Building Safety Accord that these companies refused to signis designed to prevent fires like this one. Under the Accord, factories will undergo fire safety inspections, mandatory repairs and renovations, and factories will be required to help pay for any safety upgrades. It won’t fix everything overnight, and a smaller company that signed the Accord is also implicated in this fire. But the Fire and Safety Accord is the only credible plan to stop future disasters.
In recent years, thousands of workers have lost their lives in factory fires and collapses in Bangladesh, and thousands more have been injured so severely that they'll never work again. That means that thousands of families have lost a primary breadwinner and are still struggling to survive. Clothing brands have made billions off of Bangladesh workers -- they have a responsiblity to make sure that their victims receive full and fair compensation.
When apparel companies started walking away from the Accord, we knew more workers would die as a consequence. We can’t let this go on any longer. We cannot stand by. Let’s make sure that Walmart, Gap, and the media hears us loud and clear as this story breaks.
Six British high street firms linked to Bangladesh factory, ITV.com, October 9 2013.