Even after the death of over 1,000 people in the Rana Plaza factory collapse last April (considered the worst accident in apparel manufacturing industry), Walmart and 13 other major North American retailers have declined to participate in signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
The agreement, which demands a five-year commitment from participating retailers to conduct independent safety inspections of factories and pay up to $500,000 per year toward safety improvements, has seen greater support globally than from US retailers. Only two US retailers have agreed to sign the accord–PVH, parent to Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger and Abercrombie & Fitch.
The US retailers say they’re most concerned the agreement would give labor groups and others the ability to sue them in U.S. courts, but cash-starved labor groups.
At that time, Walmart’s representative said it was “not financially feasible” …to make such investments.”Walmart, the third largest public corporation in the world, is one of the fourteen companies refusing to sign. This is not the first time Walmart has refused to improve the well being of workers in factories. In 2011, Walmart rejected a proposal made by a group of Bangladeshi and international unions proposing safer garment factories.
One November 24, 2012 a fire in a Bangladesh clothing factory resulted in the death of 112 workers. There were no fire escapes or exists in the eight-story building, and many victims jumped to their deaths. After the fire, Walmart said it could not confirm that it had ever sourced apparel from the factory. Photos taken by Bangladeshi labor activists showed Walmart-branded clothing in the factory.
The accord has been signed by major European retailers like H&M, Benetton, Marks & Spencer, Zara, and Carrefour.
Here’s the list of US companies who’ve not signed the accord:
American Eagle Outfitters
The Children’s Place