CommunityFDL Main Blog

Anger Rising in Bangladesh, Putting Big Brands Under Pressure

Image via International Labor Rights Forum

Originally posted at In These Times

It’s been about a month since the Rana Plaza factory complex crumbled into a cement grave for more than 1,100 Bangladeshi workers. Now, the dust has settled, but the anger still burns as workers await compensation and accountability from a manufacturing system that runs on industrial “death traps.”

But last week, at a meeting of the International Labour Organization, dozens of major global clothing brands—none based in the United States—announced they had signed onto a broad safety accord designed to be more comprehensive than previous corporate codes of conduct. The initiative, led by labor rights groups and unions, is just the beginning of a long road to labor justice, but could move one of the world’s deadliest manufacturing sectors toward meaningful international accountability.

The linchpin of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which now has the support of 40 companies, such as H&M and Benettonrepresenting some 1000 factories, is a legally binding commitment to hold multinationals responsible for safety violations. Corporations must also proactively safeguard workers’ physical and economic security by assisting suppliers in financing and implementing safety upgrades. The plan also provides some job protections for workers affected by safety remediations, when, for instance, a factory must shut down for renovations. Workers and advocacy groups would also have a role in administering the inspection and renovation procedures.

UNI Global Union, a Geneva-based international labor coalition, announced last week, “The aim is to have safety inspectors on the ground as quickly as possible in order to begin to fix the most urgent problems.” With an unprecedented number of companies on board, UNI says that going forward, “workers everywhere will now seek to expand this historic accord to other countries and to other industrial sectors.”

But in a sector rife with unsafe, poorly regulated buildings, many of the most dangerous factories may remain out of reach because two major American brands, Gap and Wal-Mart, are holding out, apparently wary of the possibility of legal or financial liability for supply-chain safety problems. Wal-Mart has sought to preempt the pending safety accord by announcing its own safety plan, which activists dismiss as another toothless public-relations measure.

So-called “corporate social responsibility” initiatives have long been criticized by activists as corruption-prone smokescreens used by corporations to “voluntarily” police (and rubber stamp) conditions in their own supply chains, without real, legal accountability. [cont’d]

CommunityMy FDL

Anger Rising in Bangladesh, Putting Big Brands Under Pressure

Image via International Labor Rights Forum

Originally posted at In These Times

It’s been about a month since the Rana Plaza factory complex crumbled into a cement grave for more than 1,100 Bangladeshi workers. Now, the dust has settled, but the anger still burns as workers await compensation and accountability from a manufacturing system that runs on industrial “death traps.”

But last week, at a meeting of the International Labour Organization, dozens of major global clothing brands—none based in the United States—announced they had signed onto a broad safety accord designed to be more comprehensive than previous corporate codes of conduct. The initiative, led by labor rights groups and unions, is just the beginning of a long road to labor justice, but could move one of the world’s deadliest manufacturing sectors toward meaningful international accountability.

The linchpin of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which now has the support of 40 companies, such as H&M and Benettonrepresenting some 1000 factories, is a legally binding commitment to hold multinationals responsible for safety violations. Corporations must also proactively safeguard workers’ physical and economic security by assisting suppliers in financing and implementing safety upgrades. The plan also provides some job protections for workers affected by safety remediations, when, for instance, a factory must shut down for renovations. Workers and advocacy groups would also have a role in administering the inspection and renovation procedures.

UNI Global Union, a Geneva-based international labor coalition, announced last week, “The aim is to have safety inspectors on the ground as quickly as possible in order to begin to fix the most urgent problems.” With an unprecedented number of companies on board, UNI says that going forward, “workers everywhere will now seek to expand this historic accord to other countries and to other industrial sectors.”

But in a sector rife with unsafe, poorly regulated buildings, many of the most dangerous factories may remain out of reach because two major American brands, Gap and Wal-Mart, are holding out, apparently wary of the possibility of legal or financial liability for supply-chain safety problems. Wal-Mart has sought to preempt the pending safety accord by announcing its own safety plan, which activists dismiss as another toothless public-relations measure.

So-called “corporate social responsibility” initiatives have long been criticized by activists as corruption-prone smokescreens used by corporations to “voluntarily” police (and rubber stamp) conditions in their own supply chains, without real, legal accountability.

(more…)

Previous post

Administration's Price Tag Obsession Could Still Politically Undermine Obamacare

Next post

Al-Qaeda Office Politics Lead To Rise Of Moktar Belmoktar

Oxdown Diaries

Oxdown Diaries