Worker Rights Consortium Appeals Walmart & Other Laggard Retailers to join Safety Programme
30 November 2021: On the Anniversary of Bangladesh’s deadliest Garment Factory Fire, Worker Rights Consortium has appealed Walmart and other Laggard Retailers to join acclaimed Safety Programme. It may be noted that a massive fire engulfed the Tazreen Fashions factory in Dhaka on November 24, 2012, killing and injuring hundreds of people.
Following the implementation of International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, with effect from September 2021, about 150 apparel brands and retailers had already signed this new binding agreement. The agreement was prepared on the line of the model pioneered by the Bangladesh Accord for protecting worker safety. The signatoried include H&M, Zara, American Eagle Outfitters, Tommy Hilfiger and Hanesbrands.
Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium stated that the Accord is the most effective safety program ever created in the global apparel supply chain. The Accord has generated a hundred thousand life-saving factory repairs and renovations across Bangladesh’s sprawling garment sector.
It may be noted that prior to the major accidents such as Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza in 2012 and 2013, over 900 workers lost their life in a series of other garment factory disasters in Bangladesh. But since the Accord’s implementation, since 2016 there has not been a single death in an Accord-listed factory due to a safety issue covered by the program.
On November 24, 2012, when fire engulfed, hundreds of workmen were working overtime at Tazreen Fashions where 5 out of 14 production lines were making Walmart apparel. Later the investigations revealed that the building had no fire exits. A survivor, Sumi Abedin, said her manager locked the doors on her floor after the fire alarm sounded, claiming it was a false alarm. When smoke filled the floor minutes later, the manager was nowhere to be found. She survived with a broken leg after jumping from a third-floor window whereas 112 of her colleagues got perished in the fire. The Worker Rights Consortium has thus urged the retailer to stop ignoring the safety of workers in its supply chain and sign the International Accord, said Scott Nova.