There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or a cheap shirt.
You can’t put a price on a life — and there are many workers who die in garment factory disasters. Clothing companies are responsible to make sure these factories are safe, and stop looking the other way so they can get their products made cheaply. Buyers can purchase goods from responsible clothing companies– so yes, we can all do something.
Major European retailers and some American companies have signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, but the more than a dozen major North American retailers who declined to sign it are being taken to task in actions around the country this weekend.
The accord was crafted after 1,129 people died unnecessarily in a factory fire in the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh this past April– people who were forced to go to work by their employers even after the factory had been deemed unsafe by police who found cracks in the walls.
The document calls for participating retailers to make a five-year commitment to conduct independent safety inspections of factories and pay up to $500,000 per year toward safety improvements. Rallies are being held on Saturday to pressure multinational corporations such as Walmart and The Gap to do their part to end the deadly sweatshop fires and building collapses that happen often while workers toil making clothes for these giants.
This Saturday, June 29th a 1 p.m. a rally and march on the Bad Actor Retailers will be held in Petrosino Square, near Spring St. and Lafayette St, in Manhattan. Sponsors include New York State Labor-Religion Coalition, United Students Against Sweatshops, New York City Central Labor Council, International Labor Rights Forum and Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, among others.
Among those who have signed the accord are Swedish retailer H & M and Italian fashion house Benetton — both companies who had workers in factory disasters in Bangladesh. PVH, parent to Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, signed the accord, as did Abercrombie & Fitch.
The accord promises commitment to a safe and sustainable Bangladeshi Ready-Made Garment industry “in which no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses, or others accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures.” The program will be built on the National Action Plan on Fire Safety. The participating companies welcome a strong role for the International Labour Organization to be sure actions are implemented. The ILO promotes social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights.