Primark, H&M and Zara-owner Inditex have said they will sign up to an agreement about fire and building safety in Bangldesh, in the wake of two factory disasters in the last month.
The three businesses have today committed to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which was initiated by trade unions IndustryAll and UNI Global Union. H&M and Inditex join Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein owner PVH and coffee retailer Tchibo, who previously signed the legally binding agreement.
Dutch retailer C&A has also signed up today.
Pressure group Labour Behind the Label said: “We hope that this will mark a sea change in the Bangladesh garment industry and will help us to prevent future loss of life. We congratulate Primark for being the first UK brand to sign on to this Accord and urge other brands and retailers to sign on immediately.”
The new agreement, which has been designed for a five year period, is a step towards addressing improved fire and safety in the garment industry. This comes after more than 1,000 people were killed in two factory disasters.
The death toll from the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed on April 24, has risen to 1,021. Last week the Bangladeshi manufacturing industry suffered a further tragedy with a fire in another factory. It is believed that the fire in a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh killed at least eight people with the owner of the factory among the fatalities.
Helena Helmersson, head of sustainability at H&M, said: “Fire and building safety are extremely important issues for us and we put a lot of effort and resources within this area.
“Our strong presence in Bangladesh gives us the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and contribute to the community’s development. By being on site, put demands on manufacturers and work for continuous improvements, we can slowly but surely contribute to lasting changes.”
A Primark spokesperson said: “The company has consistently believed that the collaborative approach facilitated through this agreement was the most likely initiative to bring effective and sustainable change for the better to the Bangladeshi garment industry.”
Labour Behind the Label’s Sam Maher said: “We now call upon all major brands sourcing from Bangladesh to prevent any more deaths and sign this agreement before the deadline of May 15. With 1,250 workers killed in the last six months in Bangladesh, it is now time for companies to move beyond vague promises, business-as-usual self-regulatory schemes and rhetoric, and to sign a binding safety agreement that can finally bring an end to the horror in Bangladesh. More than one million global consumers have signed petitions calling brands to take action: All brands should now sign”