Labour rights group presses for binding safety agreement | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 30, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 30, 2012

Tazreen Fire

Labour rights group presses for binding safety agreement

International labour rights group Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) yesterday called for international pressure on Bangladeshi garment makers to get them to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety (BFBS) agreement.
The purpose of the agreement is to prevent and correct the dangerous fire safety risks prevalent at many of the garment factories in Bangladesh.
The move comes in the wake of the 111 deaths due to inadequate fire safety precautions at Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Ashulia.
CCC, based in Amsterdam, is an alliance of trade unions and nongovernmental organisations from 15 European countries, geared towards the improvement of working conditions in the garment industry.
"Brands need to prevent anymore unnecessary factory worker deaths. Signing this agreement and working with trade unions in Bangladesh is the first essential step," said Tessel Pauli, president of CCC in Europe.
“Proper worker safety measures, such as those that will be required by the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, could go a long way towards saving lives in cases of fire, or even preventing fires from occurring," said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labour Rights Forum.
"Workers need to be central to the solution, not victims of bad management,” she said.
“The agreement we are proposing involves a number of critical elements that distinguish it from the voluntary corporate social responsibility programs that have allowed these deadly fires to continue,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the US-based Worker Rights Consortium.
Inspections by trained fire safety experts operating independently of the brands and the factories being inspected and making the results of the inspections are the major stipulations of the proposed agreement.
Other noteworthy demands include: mandatory renovations to address all identified hazards, and a requirement that brands cease doing business with any supplier that refuses to do so; a binding contract between the brands and worker representatives to make these commitments enforceable.
The agreement -- already signed by PVH, owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and the German retailer Tchibo -- also asks for a central role for unions for the purpose of educating workers on how to protect their rights and safety, including their rights to refuse unsafe work.
Meanwhile, 85,000 Walmart customers and SumOfUs, a global movement of consumer and investors, have started a campaign to get the US retail giant to get on board with the BFBS agreement as well.

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