(Adds Inditex measures in Spain)
By Tomás Cobos and Serajul Quadir
MADRID/DHAKA Jan 27 Leading global fashion
retailer Inditex, parent of Zara clothing brand, said
on Sunday it would stop working with two subcontracters after
Bangladeshi officials said clothes with its labels were found in
the wreckage of a deadly factory fire.
"Inditex has suspended links with Spanish supplier Wonnover
and its Bangladeshi sub-contractor Centex as a precautionary
measure," a spokesman for Spain-based Inditex told Reuters.
Earlier on Sunday, international labour rights groups called
for global clothing retailers to ensure adequate safety measures
for garment workers in Bangladesh after a blaze killed seven
employees at a small factory.
Saturday's fire gutted Smart Exports Garment Ltd, just two
months after Bangladesh's worst ever factory blaze killed 112
workers and injured 150 at Tazreen Fashions Ltd, a multi-storey
garment workshop in Dhaka's Ashulia suburb.
The Inditex spokesman said that the two suppliers deny
handing off production to unauthorized suppliers but that
Inditex was breaking links while it looks into what happened.
"We want to help the families and the authorities in all
they need and we have sent a team to investigate the issue," the
Inditex has eight brands, including teen clothes Bershka,
Oysho underwear and upmarket retailer Massimo Dutti. The company
has 6,000 stores in 86 countries. Inditex founder Amancio Ortega
is Spain's richest person and the world's fifth-wealthiest
according to Forbes.
In a joint statement issued after the latest blaze this
weekend, three organisations asked retailers and brands to sign
a fire safety agreement with Bangladesh.
"After more than two decades of the apparel industry knowing
about the risks to these workers, nothing substantial has
changed," the Executive Director of the International Labor
Rights Forum, Judy Gearhart, said in the statement.
"Brands still keep their audit results secret. They still
walk away when it suits them and trade unions are still
marginalised, weakening workers' ability to speak up when they
are at risk," she added.
The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and the Clean Clothes
Campaign (CCC) also signed the statement.
Another rights group, the Institute for Global Labour and
Human Rights (ILGHR), said on its website it had gained access
to the gutted factory and found seven women workers had been
crushed to death as employees tried to escape the fire.
ILGHR said labels from Inditex brands and another
clothesmaker were found on the site.
Firefighters and police said the cause of the latest blaze
was not yet known. Survivors said it could have been caused by
an electrical short circuit at the factory on the upper floor of
a two-storey building in the crowded Mohammadpur area.
Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center
for Workers Solidarity told Reuters that two garment factories
had subcontracted orders to the factory's owner, Smart Export
She said the company was not a member of the Bangladesh
Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association and had no
license from fire prevention or labour bodies.
An official report into the Tazreen blaze in November
concluded it was the result of both sabotage and negligence.
Bangladesh has about 4,500 garment factories and is the
world's biggest exporter of clothing after China. Clothing makes
up 80 percent of its $24 billion annual exports.
(Writing by Anis Ahmed and Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Ron Popeski)