Adidas joins European-led effort on Bangladesh factories

Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:04pm EDT

Oct 29 (Reuters) - Sporting goods maker Adidas AG has signed on to a pact to promote the safety of garment workers in Bangladesh, a shareholder activist group said on Tuesday.

Adidas was the first of 21 companies to make "a firm commitment" to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh after being approached by the shareholder group, said Lauren Compere, an executive of Boston Common Asset Management. The firm is affiliated with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which led the drive.

Adidas' move could put pressure on other clothing companies to press for improved factory conditions after more than 1,100 workers were killed in the collapse of a Bangladesh garment plant in April, the largest in a string of deadly incidents in the country.

In response, a number of European retailers and union groups began the Accord, aiming to improve safety with steps like independent inspections of facilities and public reporting.

Others - including U.S. companies like Wal-Mart Stores Inc - created the separate Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Proponents of the Accord say it is the stronger of the two approaches because it would commit companies over a longer period and include binding arbitration if disputes arise.

Representatives of Adidas did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comments.

Adidas rival Puma SE had already signed on to the Accord.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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