The collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh in April last year focussed world attention on conditions faced by workers who produce clothing for many of the western world’s retail outlets. The tragic death of 1129 was deemed too high a price to pay for affordable fashion.
In May last year, more than 150 garment companies signed an Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The Accord is a legally binding, independent agreement that aims to ensure all garment factories in Bangladesh provide a safe workplace. Signatories to the
Accord agree to independent safety inspections and compliance with any recommendations made.
The first of those inspections has now been completed and the findings published at: www.bangladeshaccord.org.
Two factories had been temporarily closed after serious structural issues were uncovered, although work was allowed to continue after overloading was reduced.
Factories supplying Cotton On and Big W are among the first batch of factories to be investigated. Four contracted engineering firms and 25 staff engineers plan to inspect the 1,500 factories used by the Accord brands by the end of August, starting with the highest-risk buildings with more than five floors.
The Synod and its members were part of a letter-writing campaign that helped get Big W, Target, Kmart, Cotton On and Specialty Fashion Group to sign up to the Accord.
In Australia, Just Jeans continues to refuse to sign and is the target of a postcard campaign. The JIM unit is helping distribute the postcards to interested congregations.