Retailers to inspect safety standards in Bangladesh factories

Most of the retailers that have signed to the plan are from Europe, not the US.

Bangladesh.
Workers demonstrating following the collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh in April. Credit: Getty Images.

A consortium of retailers, mostly from Europe, has reached an agreement to conduct inspections to boost safety standards in garment factories of Bangladesh.

The retailers have pledged to take responsibility and necessary action wherever any grave safety problems have been found during inspections of the factories from which they source garments, and would ensure that enough funds are made available for renovations.

This legally-binding plan, which is likely to be announced today, has been arrived at after talks with labour unions and NGOs since May this year.

In April, over 1,100 workers were killed when an eight-storey factory in Bangladesh that supplies garments to European retailers collapsed.

The collapse of the Rana Plaza building brought international focus on the safety conditions of the workers in Bangladesh’s garment industry, which is considered to be the second largest in the world.

Three weeks after the building collapsed, the first group of retailers signed a safety plan. By May, the number of signatories grew from 30 to 70 and included retailers such as Marks & Spencer and PVH.

However, only a few US retailers have become signatories to the plan as many allegedly rejected the legally-binding concept, which could make them vulnerable to lawsuits. On the other hand, some US retailers are running parallel safety programmes of their own.