70 retailers agree Bangladesh garment factory inspections
A group of 70 retailers have agreed a plan to conduct inspections of garment factories in Bangladesh in an attempt to improve safety standards.
The companies will provide Unions and NGO's with the details of supplier factories, which will then be inspected within the next nine months. The companies have then agreed to pay for any safety upgrades needed.
The legally-binding code was announced earlier this year after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in April killed more than 1,100 people.
Several big names, including Sweden's H&M, the biggest buyer of Bangladeshi-made clothes, signed up to the code after the incident.
Other signatories include Inditex, which owns Zara, Benetton, Metro, Carrefour, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Esprit and Abercrombie & Fitch. See the full list of brands.
"This historic, legally binding accord will effect tangible change on the ground and help make the Bangladeshi garment industry safe and sustainable," said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, a labour group which played a key role in creating the pact.
However some US companies, including Wal-Mart and GAP, have not signed up to the code saying that it gives labour unions too much control over ensuring workplace safety and have proposed a non-binding initiative.
They are working on a separate agreement agreement to establish a $50 million, five-year fund to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh garment factories. Campaigners are waiting to see whether it will meet or exceed the safety benchmarks already laid down in the code.
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