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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon backs Bangladesh Safety Deal

20 June, 2013United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pledged his full support for the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord which already has more than 50 global retail brands signed up.

IndustriALL, UNI Global Union and leading NGOs, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium are working with the global retailers to make Bangladeshi garment factories safe in the wake of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Over 1,100 workers, mainly women, were killed in the recent factory collapse.

In letters to the General Secretaries of IndustriALL and UNI, Jyrki Raina and Philip Jennings, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “The building collapse in Dhaka reminds us all that ensuring that workers’ human rights are protected and respected within value chains involves a wide range of societal actors, including governments, employers, buyers and workers’ representatives.”

IndustriALL General Secretary, Jyrki Raina, “New companies are joining the Accord every day. Global figures from Pope Francis to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría, as well as millions of consumers, can see that the only viable way to improve conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers is to work with trade unions nationally and internationally. We welcome Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s support for this collective approach and urge any remaining brands that source from Bangladesh to join us in this critically important endeavour.”

UNI Global Union Secretary General, Philip Jennings, said, “We welcome the UN Secretary General’s wholehearted support for the Accord. He recognises the urgent need to bring working conditions in line with international labour standards. Companies who source in Bangladesh must sign up and commit to improving safety standards. There should be no exceptions. Not GAP and not Walmart. This is about accountability all along the supply- chain, there can be no weak links in matters of life and death.”

Jennings added, “I will be meeting with Nordic retailers in Denmark next week under the Ethical Trading Initiative. We will continue to push for more companies to join the Accord because only if all companies work together can we make the Bangladeshi factories safe.”

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon indicated that companies who are members of the UN Global Compact should sign up to the Accord.  

Today in Geneva, IndustriALL, UNI and companies involved in implementing the Accord are taking part in an open panel discussion hosted by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, mandated by the United Nations to promote the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles. The discussion will focus on the lessons learned from the Rana Plaza disaster in addressing working conditions in the garment supply chain and how to apply these more globally. IndustriALL and UNI are looking forward to cooperating with both the Working Group on Business and Human Rights as well as the Global Compact to improve working conditions in global supply chains.

The Heads of the OECD and the ILO have already shown their total commitment to the Bangladesh safety deal driven by IndustriALL and UNI. OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria has called on the international textile industry, governments, and other stakeholders to address the risks to prevent more tragedies in the Bangladeshi garment industry. The Rana Plaza tragedy and the response including the Accord will top the agenda at the OECD’s Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct in Paris next week.