September 20, 2012
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), IndustriALL Global Union, 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. The program will get underway once two more major brands have signed on to the agreement.
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, which recently became world leading news with more than 300 workers deaths in two factory fires in Pakistan. CCC has been campaigning on safety issues in Bangladesh since the collapse of the Spectrum factory in 2005, which left 64 people dead and involved high street brand Zara. The programme has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers currently at risk.
The programme allows for independent building inspections, worker rights training, public disclosure and a long-overdue review of safety standards. It is transparent as well as practical, and unique in being supported by all key labour stakeholders in Bangladesh and internationally. 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.