Top retailers, unions to inspect Bangladesh factories

DHAKA, July 7, 2013 (AFP) – Seventy top retailers have pledged to improve worker safety and allow inspection of all of their garment factories in Bangladesh within nine months under a pact signed with unions after a deadly factory collapse, a statement said Monday. But in recent weeks manufacturers have criticised the organisers, saying the BGMEA should have been brought on board.

“They should have definitely included the BGMEA and the knitwear manufacturers in the accord and its decision-making bodies. After all, it’s our factories they are going to inspect,” BGMEA vice-president Reaz-Bin-Mahmood told AFP.

Scott Nova, head of the US-based Worker Rights Consortium, told AFP the BGMEA was not included because “this agreement is focused on the responsibility of the brands to ensure that factories are made safe”.

While leading European retailers have joined the agreement, American brands such as Walmart and Gap have snubbed the accord and opted for self-regulation.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer and one of Dhaka’s top buyers, has promised to inspect its Bangladeshi suppliers and publish the results, while Gap says it launched its own drive last October. Repairs and renovations resulting from the inspections will also be carried out, the reta