Labour leaders urge Wal-Mart, Gap to sign factory accord | The Daily Star
12:22 AM, May 22, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:28 AM, May 22, 2013

Labour leaders urge Wal-Mart, Gap to sign factory accord

Left, A boy's shirt by Wal-Mart's brand Faded Glory and, right, a pair of men's cargo shorts by Gap. Both US retailers made their clothes in Bangladesh. Photo: Reuters Left, A boy's shirt by Wal-Mart's brand Faded Glory and, right, a pair of men's cargo shorts by Gap. Both US retailers made their clothes in Bangladesh. Photo: Reuters

The local arm of IndustriALL, a global union federation, yesterday appealed to Wal-Mart and Gap to join a legally binding accord immediately to ensure safety in Bangladesh's garment factories.
A total of 37 international clothing retailers have already signed the agreement designed by IndustriALL to contribute financially towards minimising occupational risks in Bangladesh's garment sector.
“The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart and another US company Gap should join the process and give appropriate compensation to the building collapse victims of Savar,” said Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council.
The appeal mounts pressure on the two US retailers to make meaningful contributions towards improvement of factory conditions in Bangladesh.
The Europe-based organisation has already demanded $71 million in compensations for the Rana Plaza victims, Ramesh said at a press conference at the National Press Club yesterday.
“Huge financial assistance is necessary to support the families of workers who died or are still missing from the Rana Plaza collapse,” Ramesh said.
So, IndustriALL urged the government, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and international retailers to launch a relief and rehabilitation programme in a coordinated manner on a short-, medium- and long-term basis.
IndustriALL leaders also stressed for compensation in terms of loss of future earnings.
The companies, including H&M, Inditex and Marks & Spencer, pledged to contribute as much as $2.5 million [$500,000 a year] each over five years under the agreement announced by IndustriALL.
Backed by the International Labour Organisation, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh now covers more than 1,000 suppliers, according to IndustriALL's website.
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council also criticised the government for the proposed amendment to Labour Law 2006, as many of the changes would go against the workers.
“We are extremely shocked at the amendment as many recommendations of labour organisations were not incorporated in the draft,” Ramesh said.
The amendment, in many cases, does not comply with the standards of the ILO, particularly on workers' right to union, he said.
The draft amendment stipulates withdrawal of some existing facilities for workers, like sharing 5 percent of profits. Instead, it now stipulates transferring the money to a welfare fund.
They urged the government to enact the new labour law keeping the workers' interests in mind.
Nazrul Islam Khan, chairman of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, also spoke.

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