Madrid, 10 July 2013 – 2013 has been marked by a series of fatal incidents in the Bangladeshi garment industry. The Rana Plaza disaster, in which more than 1100 people were killed following the collapse of a building, revealed the bad working conditions in the textile sector in Bangladesh. The building was hosting five garment factories working for Western brands, therefore western businesses were responsible for the precarious working conditions in these factories.
The EU has responded to these tragic incidents by launching, with the Government of Bangladesh on the 8th of July, a new compact on garment factory safety to improve labour rights, working conditions and factory safety in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. The compact includes a number of time-bound actions, such as the reform of the Bangladesh Labour law, the improvement of building and fire safety by June 2014, and the recruitment of 200 additional inspectors by the end of 2013.
These responses are first steps towards improving the safety and working conditions in the garment industry in Bangladesh. However, the Rana Plaza disaster revealed that European Businesses, who are effectively the ones deciding the terms of the contracts with outside suppliers, also share responsibility in the incident. It has shown that the internal audits of the companies were not sufficient enough to ensure traceability and corporate social responsibility throughout the global supply chain. The Bangladeshi incidents in the garment factory have also illustrated the inefficiency of European legal and policy framework to ensure the respect for human rights in the global production chains of EU-based businesses.
Access Info and ECCJ are calling on EU decision makers to take on the opportunity of the current discussions of EC’s proposal on corporate non-financial disclosure to include mandatory reporting on environmental, social and human right matters throughout the global production chain of EU-based multinational companies, including activities of outside suppliers.