Japanese clothing chain Uniqlo has said it is still “not ready” to sign the “Accord on Fire and Building Safety”, a safety pact for Bangladeshi garment factories, despite pressure from the United States on all retail brands to help bring change to the industry. This is in light of the garment factory disaster that killed more than 1,100 workers when a nine-story building collapsed last month.
Uniqlo said that they are still reviewing the accord, which was initiated and promoted by workers’ right groups. A spokesman for Fast Retailing, which owns the brand, said that they have not yet reached a decision as they are still closely studying the agreement. But even while they have not committed yet, they have already started adding to some safety measures with their Bangladeshi suppliers, including implementing fire prevention steps. Bangladesh’s National Garment Worker Federation criticized Uniqlo saying their delay is an “irresponsible move from a very responsible company”. Amirul Haque Amin, president of the NGWF said that the brand is sending a message that they are not that concerned about workers’ safety in Bangladesh, the world’s second biggest garment exporter next to China.
International workers’ associations like UNI and IndustriALL Global Union are urging Western retailers to commit to the agreement which will legally require them and their partners to independent building and fire safety inspections. Some European brands like H&M, Zara, Marks & Spencer have already signed the agreement while US retailers Gap and Walmart already declined to commit to the pact. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association says that half of the companies that account for 20 billion dollars of the country’s apparel sales have already signed up.
[ via Daily Times ]