Danish retailers sign Bangladesh safety reform plan

COPENHAGEN Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:32am EDT

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - PWT Group, a user of the clothing factory that collapsed in Bangladesh in April, and five other Danish firms, have agreed to sign an international accord on fire and safety in Bangladesh.

The accord was worked out and endorsed by several large mainly European retailers in May after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed on April 24 killing at least 1,129 people.

Denmark said IC Companys (IC.CO), DK Company (DKC.CO), Bestseller, COOP Denmark, Danish Supermarket and PWT Group, with its Texman and Wagner brands, had agreed to join retailers such as Hennes & Mauritz (HMb.ST), Inditex (ITX.MC), PVH Corp (PVH.N) and Tesco Plc (TSCO.L) in endorsing the accord.

PWT Group, which had been using a supplier in Rana Plaza for seven years, said the day after the collapse that, while it checked working conditions at the factory, it could not be held responsible for how it was built. It later said it planned to offer financial help to victims' families.

"It is encouraging that several Danish companies today have decided that they will sign the international agreement," Danish Trade Minister Pia Olsen Dyr said in a statement.

The Rana Plaza building collapse followed a fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory on the outskirts of Dhaka that killed 112 people in November 2012 and another incident at a factory in January in which seven people died, compounding concerns about worker safety and low wages in Bangladesh.

About 3.6 million people work in Bangladesh's garment industry, making it the world's second-largest apparel exporter.

North American retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), Macy's Inc (M.N), Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD.O), JC Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) and Gap Inc (GPS.N) have declined to sign the fire and safety initiative.

PWT Group Marketing Director Brian Borsting said the firm didn't sign the accord sooner due to certain issues that needed clarifying, without elaborating.

(Editing by Mark Potter)

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Comments (1)
Sam_Johnson90 wrote:
While on the short-term such a decision might affect some people at first, it will prove to be beneficial for future generations. I recently saw a documentary – Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags, which really puts the garment industry in perspective. It delves into its history, and how we have reached the situation we are in today (where US companies outsource to escape certain working standards). Believe it or not, there was a time when the garment industry (in the US) enabled upward mobility, white collar jobs and opportunities for many businesses to make a lot of money – all this when workers would stand up for themselves and when business was conducted (more or less) ethically. The film places the current debates in historic context. This is an ethical step in the right direction.

Jun 27, 2013 12:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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