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H&M, C&A, Inditex & Co. support safety plan


May 14, 2013

It took the worst industrial disaster ever with more than a thousand dead workers to finally stir up things but the textile and garment industry is all set to bring about the necessary change. Some of the biggest fashion companies like H&M, C&A,

Inditex and others have finally agreed to support the agreement on fire and building safety in Bangladesh.

guidelines were developed by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) already a year ago but until now, it did not garner much support from buyers’ side.

The Monday after the disaster that led to the collapse of the Rana Plaza building on 24th April, the regional representatives of more than 40 international buyers, among them Li & Fung, H&M, JC Penney, C&A, Gap Inc., G-Star, Inditex, Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Target, New Wave, Nike Inc., Primark and New Look, had met with the BGMEA and discussed the situation in Bangladesh and the future of the country’s garment and textile industry.

“The reality is that buyers are seriously thinking about their sourcing from Bangladesh,” said regional director of JC Penney Jenefa Jabbar. “Bangladesh’s government has laws, but there is no implementation of those laws. The buyers’ community wants to see credible action,” she added.

As a result of the meeting on 29th of April, a committee was formed to determine the terms of references regarding the assessment of all safety-related issues in the garment and textile factories, including building safety.

Hundreds of factories will be closed from tomorrow

As a precautionary measure, from tomorrow, Tuesday, 14th of May onward, hundreds of textile and garment factories in Bangladesh will be closed indefinitely. Among them around 500 in the textile center Ashulia, about 30 km away from the capital Dhaka, that houses the country’s largest and most important textile factories .

Since the building collapse in Savar that cost the lives of 1,127 people and injured 2,438 more, thousands of angry workers have protested almost daily, demanding retribution for those responsible, adequate pay and better working conditions. Finally, the government seems to be on the workers’ side and is allowing them to form independent unions and to lead wage negotiations as government spokesman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan confirmed. Before, the workers needed the factory owner’s consent to do so. Even wages are supposed to be raised soon.

Hopefully, the international community of buyers will not turn their backs on Bangladesh in these trying times as pulling out of the country would be the worst possible reaction for a country with so much potential and willing and able work power. In fact, the textile and garment industry as a whole is facing an upheaval that offers the chance to use Bangladesh as a concrete example and turn the vision of a fair, safe and humane production of garments and textiles on all levels of the supply chain into a reality.

Image: BGMEAtextile industry, ashulia, worker safety