US Retailers Launch Lobby Blitz to Sell Weak Bangladesh Safety Plan

The gruesome garment factory disasters in Bangladesh, including a fire that claimed the lives of more than 112 in Tazreen and a building collapse that killed over 1,100 in Dhaka while maiming countless more, has brought international pressure on Western retailers and their partners in Bangladesh's $20 billion garment industry. While more than seventy European and North American companies have signed onto a strong agreement with local Bangladesh and international labor NGOs for sweeping new safety standards (known as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety), many large US-based retailers have refused to play ball, preferring instead to rollout their own, competing agreement.
Yesterday morning, the competing agreement—sponsored by Walmart, Target, Kohls's Corp, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, Gap, Sears, and other firms—was unveiled at the Bipartisan Policy Center by former Senators Olympia Snowe and George Mitchell. A joint statement from the AFL-CIO and Change to Win swiftly condemned the rival agreement as "yet another 'voluntary' scheme with no meaningful enforcement mechanisms" and a "product of a closed process and has been signed only by the same corporations that produced it." The union says labor was not involved in the Walmart and Gap-led agreement.

No comments: