25 June, 2013Denmark’s top six retail brands agree to sign up to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord which now is now backed by more than 60 global brands.
Bestseller, IC Companys, DK Company, PWT Group, COOP Denmark, and Danish Supermarket all agreed to back the Bangladesh Safety Deal following a meeting organised by the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative (DIEH) bringing together, NGOs, unions and government officials. The Danish Trade Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr urged the companies to add their names to the agreement which aims to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh’s garment factories in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that claimed 1,129 lives.
The Accord brokered by IndustriALL and UNI Global Union in a strong alliance with leading NGOs, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Workers Right Consortium, now covers around 2000 of Bangladesh’s 4000 garment factories.
Andy York from N Brown Group, one of the companies which has already signed the Accord and who is part of the Implementation Secretariat spoke to the Danish companies and explained why signing the agreement was the right thing to do.
IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina welcomed the new signatories, "The Danish trade unions, including IndustriALL affiliate 3F, have worked well in convincing the Danish market leaders into joining the Accord. The momentum continues building the Accord and continues to further alienate those brands remaining outside."
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings observed, “We had a lively and informal exchange with the retailers present. We welcome the decision by these six “Great Dane” retailers to sign the agreement. This is another important day for the Accord which continues to grow in scope. The retail sector is answering the call for a socially responsible supply chain.
We know that lives depend on it, with the will to succeed shown by the Danish companies and the 60 plus brands who have signed the Accord we will achieve the goal of making Bangladeshi garment factories safer places to work. Trade Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr and the Danish government should be applauded for driving the Accord forward in Denmark. During discussions with the Trade Minister I was impressed with her determination to get all Danish retailers on board. Other European governments should take note and get behind the Accord as should politicians elsewhere, notably in the United States.”
Jennings said that the global brands, unions and NGOs were making rapid and constructive progress to implement the Accord. He concluded, “There can be no excuses in terms of cost or process to not join the Accord. The Danish companies took their time and have made the right decision. The decision by certain U.S. brands, led by Walmart, to refuse to sign, is looking more and more like a serious error of judgement.”
The Accord provides for a binding programme of fire and building safety reforms based on independent inspections, worker-led health and safety committees and union access to factories, signatories commit to underwrite improvements in dangerous factories and properly confront fire safety and structural problems. The Accord grants workers the right to refuse dangerous work, in line with ILO Convention 155.