American Retailers Unveil Bangladesh Safety Accord
Retailers worldwide have been pressured to improve safety measures in Bangladesh after April's deadly garment factory collapse. With the help of several associations, North American firms have crafted their own accord.
North American retailers have debuted their own safety agreement for Bangladesh, drafted with the help of the National Retail Federation and several other associations, according to news reports.
NRF, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, the Retail Council of Canada, and the Canadian Apparel Federation were involved in crafting the new Safer Factories Initiative, Reuters reported.
Although the accord is not legally binding, an NRF press release states that it seeks to “address a broad array of worker safety issues and enables brands and retailers to respond swiftly and effectively to an ever-changing environment.” Short-term plans for improvement include better education about fire safety for workers and information-sharing between retailers on safety training. Long-term goals envision a comprehensive safety compliance plan between companies and the Bangladeshi government.
Earlier this month, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association blamed Western retailers for the factory collapse there that killed more than 1,000 people. Businesses worldwide face increased pressure to find ways to prevent future disasters.
The North American accord is separate from a European agreement effort led by labor group IndustriALL, which many American retailers have declined to join.
“While the proposal put forth by the labor unions addresses a number of shared concerns, the accord veers away from commonsense solutions and seeks to advance a narrow agenda driven by special interests,” NRF chief executive Matthew Shay told Reuters.