A high-profile delegation from New York City is due in Bangladesh on Friday to gather the latest on-the-ground information on the progress made towards the improvement of factory safety since the Rana Plaza collapse.
The American contingent plans to meet survivors of the building collapse, officials of the Swedish retail giant H&M and labour leaders involved in getting global retailers to sign on the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and improve conditions for garment workers.
The goal is to bring back to New York City compelling facts and testimonial that will help raise awareness of the importance of the Accord and to encourage shoppers in New York City, one of the world's largest consumer markets, to support the 100-odd brands that have signed the Accord.
“We want the consumers to realise that how they spend their money during the holiday shopping season impacts the lives of workers in Bangladesh,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
“Consumers should know what companies like H&M are doing to lead the effort to raise standards for global brands whose factories are in Bangladesh,” he added.
Appelbaum would be travelling to Bangladesh with Thomas DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller, and Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, on Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season in the US.
“In this holiday season, Americans will purchase huge volumes of clothing apparel. We need to become even more aware of the working conditions in the countries around the world that produce these goods,” said Sullivan.
The trip and meetings have been organised in close partnership with UNI Global Union, the global union federation that has played a lead role in gathering support for the Bangladesh Accord from top global brands and retailers.