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H&M signs up to BCtA as unions push for Rana Plaza fund donations

April 2014

The Swedish multinational clothes retailer H&M has reinforced its campaign for improvements in Bangladesh’s garment industry by joining the UN-based Business Call to Action (BCtA).

Its objective in Bangladesh is to ensure better work conditions in the industry, skills and development training, social dialogue and opportunities for women.

With BCtA’s help H&M intends to create a skills centre in Bangladesh to raise vocational training standards, increase productivity and ensure the long-term employability of garment workers.

The company hopes later to establish a formal system for the training and support of skilled employees in Bangladesh. It expects the skills programme to benefit 5,000 workers by 2016.

The campaign is a “win-win for all”, said Sabha Sobhani, programme manager at BCtA, which aims to persuade companies that realising workers’ potential also brings commercial success.
More than 70 labour rights groups and trade unions are now urging clothing brands to contribute to the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund for the families and victims of the factory building collapse that killed 1,138 Bangladeshi garment workers and injured more than 2,000 a year ago.

The fund target is $40m (£24m, €28.7m), the amount needed to cover medical expenses and loss of income.

The pressure group includes more than 30 Bangladeshi bodies, 21 Canadian groups, trade union federations in Asia, Europe and the US, and the Amsterdam-based Clean Clothes Campaign, which is dedicated to improving conditions in the garment industry.

Seven brands have so far promised contributions, including Bonmarché and Mango.

* The Bangladesh Accord Foundation has recently completed its first reports detailing the results of factory inspections in Bangladesh and find that there are no current issues of a similar magnitude to those which caused the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013. They do identify a number of issues to be addressed and explain the steps to be taken to resolve them.

Commenting on the reports publication, Alan Roberts, the Bangladesh Accord Foundation’s executive director said: “The publication of these reports is an important milestone in the Accord’s progress and a demonstration of our commitment to transparency but it is only really the beginning of our work. There is a big task ahead of the inspection teams and the Accord will be working hard with brands, unions, workers and the factory owners themselves to see that the actions the inspections identify are undertaken.”

Global | Supply Chain Ethics

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