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Clean Clothes Campaign pushes for further Rana Plaza disclosure

August 2015

Labour rights groups have made official complaints that safety practices and inspections were seriously flawed at Rana Plaza, the Bangladeshi garment factory building that collapsed in 2013 causing 1,134 deaths.

They draw special attention to the German technical assessment company TÜV Rheinland, which audited Phantom Apparel, one factory in the building, only a few months before the disaster.

The Clean Clothes Campaign, one of the groups making the combined submission, say the inspectors failed to look at building safety and construction faults and ignored numerous other shortcomings.

The rights organisations have put their case to the US-based Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), through which TÜV Rheinland was appointed to inspect Phantom Apparel.

The complaint includes requests to the BSCI to disclose the Rana Plaza audit contracts and reports by a number of inspection companies and to tighten procedures.

“Consumers need to know exactly what is monitored,” said Miriam Saage-Maass, head of the business and human rights programme at the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, another signatory to the complaint. “But, above all, we need to be able to hold the certification companies and the bodies that commission them liable for their actions.”

Many businesses in the garment industry, which accounts for 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports, lack the cash to make their factories safe but could now benefit from a $50m (£32m, €46m) injection from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s investment and advisory arm.

The IFC will lend $10m each to five Bangladeshi banks, enabling them to make loans to employers for safety improvements.
Prime Bank has already signed up and four others are expected to follow.

In a separate deal the IFC has agreed to work with two organisations to improve factory conditions – the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a global group of garment retailers, and the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a joint body of brands and trade unions.

These organisations will contribute $250,000 each to help garment factories to upgrade safety and will then monitor progress.
IFC chief executive Jin-Yong Cai said: “Broad, innovative partnerships are necessary to improve the safety of workers in this critical industry. Banks, international buyers and manufacturers have a shared interest in this issue because it’s indispensable to making Bangladeshi garment factories more competitive and sustainable.”  




Global | Health and safety

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