Global labour leaders have come together in Switzerland to demand that supermarket chains Migros and Coop sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety before Christmas.
More than 120 global brands have signed the Accord, a legally binding document which aims to bring safety and sustainability to the Bangladeshi garment sector following a string of deadly tragedies. But the two Swiss commerce giants have so far refused to add their name to a list that includes a number of global supermarket brands.
In April more than 1,100 garment workers died when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed near the capital Dhaka. The disaster led IndustriALL and UNI to establish the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which now covers over 1800 factories and more than 2 million workers.
Jyrki Raina and Philip Jennings, the leaders of IndustriALL and UNI Global Union respectively, were joined by ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow at a protest outside a Migros store in Nyon.
“We are eight days from Christmas but it has been eight months since a tragedy that caused the deaths of over a thousand people in Bangladesh,” Jennings said.
“We want to give Migros and Coop a final opportunity to do the right thing and sign the Accord before the New Year. It’s the time to put humanity before profits.”
Jyrki Raina said, “We have fought tirelessly for brands from across the world to sign the accord and we are pleased with the progress made. But when we look in our own backyard, to Swiss brands that source products from Bangladesh, sadly we are missing the biggest names.”
ITUC Secretary General Sharan Burrow said, “The CEOs of a host of major global brands have added their name to this agreement, which is making a huge difference to factory safety in Bangladesh.
“Those that have not signed are hiding in the shadows. They are refusing to show that they care about their workers or their supply chains, and they should commit to put that right without delay.”
In letters to the CEO’s of both Migros and Coop, Jennings and Raina said, “We are writing to ask you to join more than 120 global brands in an unprecedented movement to improve working and safety conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh, from which your independent organisations source a number of products.
The Accord is already making a real difference to factory safety. Among the global supermarket brands to have signed and to be actively participating in the implementation of the Accord are Carrefour, Tesco, Sainsbury, Lidl and others. Today we ask COOP and Migros to do the same.