Retailers Respond To Bangladesh Factory Collapse

Relief efforts continue today in Savar, Bangladesh, following Wednesday’s devastating collapse of a building housing numerous garment factories. As the death toll mounts well beyond 200, activists are pleading for reform within the country’s massive textile industry.

WWD reports that many are calling for the arrest of the owner of Rana Plaza, which continued to house thousands of workers even after inspectors ordered an evacuation Tuesday following the discovery of deep cracks in the building’s foundation. They note, however, that the owner of Tazreen Fashions, the site of November’s factory fire that killed 112, remains free of criminal charges to this day.

The five factories within Rana Plaza have been revealed as Ether Tex, New Wave Bottoms, New Wave Style, Phantom Apparels and Phantom Tac, but thus far only Canada’s Joe Fresh and Britain’s Primark have taken responsibility for sourcing merchandise from within the building.

A spokeswoman for Joe Fresh’s parent company told the paper the following:

“We remain persistent in our effort to reach our vendor in Bangladesh to understand what caused this tragedy and to determine precisely how best to help the employees and their families. We are committed to supporting local authorities in the rescue and care of affected families…We engage international auditing firms to inspect against these standards. We will not work with vendors who do not meet our standards. Our audits align with those of industry around the world, however in light of the recent tragedies in Bangladesh, we recognize that these measures do not address the issue of building construction or integrity. Loblaw is committed to finding solutions to this situation by expanding the scope of our requirements to ensure the physical safety of workers producing our products.”

Primark likewise issued a statement to the media following the international outcry, saying that they have “been engaged for several years with NGOs and other retailers to review the Bangladeshi industry’s approach to factory standards.” And while future reviews will include structural safety, for now they are “working to collect information, assess which communities the workers come from and to provide support where possible.”


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