Since the deadly Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh last April, many international companies vowed to change the way they did business in the South Asian country. Two separate agreements were formed to monitor working conditions, and some Canadian companies have signed them.
The first agreement formed was the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which is legally-binding on its signatories and supported by many workers’ representatives. The only Canadian company to sign the accord is Loblaw, the parent company of Joe Fresh. The labour activist group Maquila Solidarity Network also supports the accord.
The full list of accord signatories is here.
The second agreement, called the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, was signed mostly by American companies.
While the alliance says it looks forward to cooperating with the accord, even entertaining "the possibility of creating a joint board of advisors," labour supporters of the accord have been critical of the alliance, calling it "another toothless corporate auditing program," in the words of the global union, IndustriALL.
Several Canadian companies have signed on to the alliance: Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited, Giant Tiger, Hudson’s Bay Company, Sears Holdings Corporation, and YM Inc.
The Retail Council of Canada and the Canadian Apparel Federations are involved in the alliance as well.
The full list of alliance members is available here.
It should be noted that there are still some Canadian companies manufacturing clothes in Bangladesh that have not signed either of the agreements.
After the collapse of Rana Plaza, Loblaw also contributed $3 million to a compensation trust fund to help injured workers and the families of deceased workers, under the Rana Plaza Arrangement. To find out more about the Arrangement, and what other Canadian companies have contributed, visit: http://www.ranaplaza-arrangement.org/