Tesco and Primark are the latest retailers to sign up to an Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh founded by international unions IndustriALL, UNI Globall Union and various NGOs.
H&M, Inditex, Primark/Penny, Inditex, C&A, PVH and Tchibo are also committed to the Accord, and more than 1,000 factories are covered by the agreement.
Under the terms of this agreement, signatories commit to financing and implementing a joint fire and building safety programme. This will include safety inspections, remediation and fire safety training at supplier factories.
The programme will build on the National Action Plan on Fire Safety, which aims to improve fire safety in Bangladesh. The Accord will align its activities with the NAP, and ensure a close collaboration, including for example establishing common programmes, liaison and advisory structures.
The unions are calling for others to join the Accord before the 15 May midnight deadline (CEST), including US brands such as GAP, and European firms such as Kik, Carrefour, Marks & Spencer and Next.
The Accord is in response to several fatal incidents in the region. Some 900 people died when a building of textile factories, the Rana Plaza in Dhaka, collapsed. and on 8th May a factory fire killed at least eight.
Kevin Grace, group commercial director of Tesco said: “This Accord will be developed into a strong programme with other leading retailers and global unions, with coordination from the UN International Labour Organisation.
“We have 54 people in Dhaka whose job is to support and help to improve standards at the 100 garment factories we work with. We do that with our suppliers and try to build relationships which means we can trust them and they us. They don’t try to hide poor practice if they are sure we won’t automatically abandon them if we find any,” said Grace.
“Primark is very pleased to support this initiative. The company has consistently believed that the collaborative approach facilitated through this agreement was the most likely initiative to bring effective and sustainable change for the better to the Bangladeshi garment industry,” said a Primark spokesperson.
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