Sign The Petition to Make Buildings Safe for Factory Workers
A few months ago, the world witnessed one of the worst disasters in history – when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, trapping and killing more than a thousand of the workers amongst the rubble.
How did this happen?
The Rana Plaza was a building that housed several factories that made clothing for European and American consumers, including Primark, Walmart, and Benetton. Just the day before the collapse, the Bangladeshi news media had reported that inspection teams had discovered cracks in the structure of Rana Plaza. Despite this, and although some shops on the lower levels and a bank had closed, owners of the garment factories on the upper floors had ordered their employees to keep working.
Less than a year earlier, there was a fatal fire at the Tazreen Fashions garment factory in Bangladesh, and that fire brought pledges from government officials and global companies, including Walmart, to tighten safety standards for factory workers.
Despite these pledges and promises, no meaningful action took place, and in April the tragedy of the building collapse made this ever more evident.
What is being done?
“The real power lies with Western brands and retailers, beginning with the biggest players: Walmart…H & M, …Gap, and others,” says Scott Nova, executive director of Worker Rights Consortium, a labour rights organization.
It takes the biggest worldwide companies to formulate changes in factory conditions, and as of the 13th of May, a major breakthrough came from one of biggest retailers of them all – H & M.
Global advocacy group Avaaz created dramatic ad campaigns and petitioned the fashion retailers to sign an agreement that for the first time would legally bind Western retailers to invest in improving worker safety in Bangladesh and other low-cost countries.
When H & M agreed to sign the agreement, within three days three dozen other major retailers signed on.
What can we do?
There are still a few major retailers refusing to sign the agreement citing the risk of legal liability, including Gap, Wal-Mart, J. C. Penney, Target, and many other big United States brands. They claim they have their own safety procedures in place, which are weak in comparison and are not held to the same stringent safety standards as the accord the petition refers to.
The agreement, called the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, is largely the same safety program that is already embraced by retailers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Tchibo. It calls for independent safety inspections with public reports, mandatory repairs and renovations, the obligation by brands and retailers to underwrite the costs, and to terminate business with any factory that refuses to make necessary safety upgrades, and involves a vital role for workers and their unions.
By signing this petition, and sharing this post with your family and friends, we appeal to the big brands directly, and we can put the pressure on those last remaining retailers into submitting to these vital safety standards.
Let your voice be heard – sign the petition to make buildings safe!
Read more about the tragedy and its aftermath:
Read more about the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh: