Three months ago over 1,100 people were killed when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. The majority of the victims were female garment workers. The disaster became the largest industrial accident in a manufacturing facility in history. But it was entirely preventable.
Under huge public pressure, 80 major brands and retailers signed a momentous agreement to ensure these disasters never happen again – the Bangladesh Safety Accord. But Gap and Asda (owned by Walmart) have refused to commit to this agreement.
Gap and Walmart have attempted to salvage their reputation by launching their own rival safety plan. Not only does it undermine the Accord, their plan is a sham. Dominated by the brands it is supposed to regulate, the plan contains no binding commitments and does not involve trade unions. It is just more of the same voluntary, corporate led initiatives that failed to prevent the Rana Plaza disaster, and the deaths of hundreds more garment workers in Bangladesh. Their voluntary plan will not work.
The Bangladesh Safety Accord will save lives. It is a comprehensive project, with transparent factory audits, mandatory repairs, effective worker training and is driven by trade unions. It is already supported by over 80 major brands and retailers including Primark, H&M and Tesco. Crucially, it is legally binding. These companies will be forced to make their supplier factories safe.
Gap and Walmart's refusal to support this project leaves thousands of garment workers’ lives at risk. We believe no one should have to work living in fear of their lives.
Gap and Walmart must sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord now.