Trade unions reach $2.3m settlement on Bangladeshi textile factory safety

Global manufacturers are legally bound to contribute towards improving safety in Bangladeshi factories

Shafi Musaddique
Monday 22 January 2018 13:53 GMT
Global fashion brands manufacture clothes in Bangladesh because of the cheap labour costs
Global fashion brands manufacture clothes in Bangladesh because of the cheap labour costs (REUTERS)

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Trade unions representing Bangladeshi textile workers have reached a $2.3m (£1.6m) settlement with a multinational fashion brand which was accused of postponing the process of fixing life-threatening hazards in factories.

The unnamed fashion brand will pay $2m to fix safety issues in more than 150 textile factories in Bangladesh and a further $300,000 towards improving pay and conditions for workers in global clothing supply chains.

The UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union took two leading fashion brands to court in 2016 following the introduction of Bangladesh’s Accord on Fire and Building Safety in 2013, a legally binding agreement under which the world’s largest fashion brands must shoulder the costs for improving health and safety in Bangladeshi factories.

The Accord came into effect after the fatal Rana Plaza factory disaster killed over a thousand people in 2013.

Marks & Spencer, Primark, Adidas, H&M, Top Shop and John Lewis are among 200 signatories of the accord, according to its website.

The two global trade unions already settled a case relating to factory conditions in Bangladesh at The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in December, with another unnamed global brand.

“The settlement makes real resources available to over 150 factories so they can finally make the necessary repairs that were needed years ago”, said Christy Hoffman, UNI Global Union’s deputy general secretary.

“We will continue pushing to make sure that all brands contribute their fair share to make work safer in Bangladesh.”

IndustriALL’s general secretary Valter Sanches said the settlement shows that the Bangladesh Accord is “proof that legally-binding mechanisms can hold multinational companies to account”.

“We are glad that the brand in question is now taking seriously its responsibility for the safety of its supplier factories in Bangladesh”, said Mr Sanches.

A second accord with greater investment in health and safety checks will come into effect this year as the original one is due to expire in May.

The collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh’s capital city Dhaka was caused by four upper floors having been built without permission on unstable ground.

The disaster was one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes in history leaving over 2,500 people injured and killing 1,135 workers.

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