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Tchibo joins agreement on garment factory safety in Bangladesh

20 September, 2012The German chain Tchibo has signed an agreement with unions and labour rights groups on factory safety in Bangladesh, where more than 600 garment workers have died in factory fires since 2006.

IndustriALL Global Union, The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN), together with Bangladeshi trade unions and labour rights groups, have reached an agreement with Tchibo to implement a fire and building safety programme in Bangladeshi garment factories.

The German-based company becomes the second retailer to commit to the groundbreaking safety programme, which was first agreed with PVH (owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) in March. Since 2006, more than 600 garment workers died in Bangladesh due to unsafe buildings.

Says Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union: “The garment industry is notorious for its safety hazards. The requirements of this programme are straightforward, commonsense measures which will have a significant impact on worker safety in many factories in Bangladesh. Tchibo and PVH have taken the lead, now it’s time for other brands to follow.”

Says Tchibo: “We take fire risks very seriously and see the need to join forces at a multi-stakeholder level in order to achieve a sector-wide change in Bangladesh. We are looking forward to collaborating with unions, labour rights’ groups, other brands, Bangladeshi employers and the government. We believe this programme has the potential to make a real difference and to be a benchmark for other Asian sourcing countries.”

Fire incidents cost the lives of thousands of garment workers worldwide, and recently became headline news yet again following the deaths of over 300 workers in two factory fires in Pakistan.

The programme, which allows for independent building inspections, worker rights training, public disclosure and a long-overdue review of safety standards, has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers currently at risk. It is transparent as well as practical, and is supported by key labour stakeholders in Bangladesh and internationally.

The agreement only comes into effect once a minimum number of buyers have signed on. The labour signatories are now calling on all major brands sourcing in the industry to sign on to the initiative in order to ensure its rapid implementation.

See today's press release here.