In the wake of the worst garment factory tragedy in world history, which left over 1,200 dead in Bangladesh last month, a number of Western brands have signed an agreement to improve working conditions in their subcontracted factories there. Walmart was missing from the list of signatories.
The legally binding agreement, signed by retailers including H&M, Primark, C&A, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Zara, Tesco and others, “aims to compel retailers to pay for rigorous and independent public inspections and blacklist any factories unwilling to comply,” the Guardian reports.
The agreement covers “independent safety inspections with public reports, mandatory repairs and renovations and a vital role for workers and their unions,” The Ethical Trading Initiative, which crafted the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh along with trade unions IndustriALL and UNI Global, writes.
“At the heart of the agreement is the commitment to Bangladesh’s Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety, and for companies to share in the responsibilities for providing a safe environment for workers.”
Instead, however, Walmart refused to sign, saying that it has created its own agreement (of which it is the only party). The agreement claims that Walmart will conduct its own inspections of the 279 factories it uses in Bangladesh within six months.