They both warned leading UK retailers that there could be a
repeat of this year's Rana Plaza tragedy if they continue to refuse
to sign up to an international accord designed to protect
Bangladeshi factory workers.
at the Trade Union Congress in Bournemouth, John Hannett –
Usdaw General Secretary says: "On 24 April the Rana Plaza
building in Bangladesh collapsed and over 1,100 garment workers
died. This was no accidental disaster. This was a direct result of
greed and exploitation.
"In response, the trade Union movement stepped up the campaign
to get retailers to sign up to the Bangladesh Accord, a legally
binding agreement guaranteeing inspections of buildings and working
In the UK, a large number of clothing retailers signed the
Accord, these include: Tesco, Sainsburys and Primark. However, some
high profile international retailers are refusing to sign, instead
pushing their own initiative which isn't legally binding and
doesn't involve the trade Unions.
John Hannett continued: "The fact that we have
a trade Union presence in key parts of the UK retail sector was an
important lever to get retailers to sign up, but the key people who
are delivering the Accord are the trade Unions in Bangladesh.
"It is a great honour for our Congress to have Amirul Haque Amin
visiting this week. It demonstrates that trade Unionists working
together internationally can deliver real change for workers on the
"Some campaigners advocate consumer boycotts, but low wages and
dangerous working conditions are not due to consumers in the West
wanting cheaper clothes. We have shown that wages in Bangladesh
clothing factories could be doubled and it would have little or no
impact on prices in the shops. Consumer boycotts of cheap clothes
will not benefit the garment factory workers."
Amin - NGWF President, who addressed the TUC's annual
Congress, says: "I am very disappointed that several leading UK
retailers are still refusing to commit to this accord. This
historic agreement ensures that thousands of factories will have
compulsory building inspections for the first time ever.
"Voluntary initiatives have failed to protect workers and if
companies in the UK refuse to sign we risk a Repeat of the Rana
Plaza tragedy. It is essential that companies take more
responsibility for the way in which their suppliers treat their
Trade Unionists and shoppers can play their part in the campaign
by visiting http://action.goingtowork.org.uk/bangladeshaccord
and write directly to the companies asking them to support
strengthening health and safety protection for Bangladeshi textile
For more photos visit:
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is
the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing Trade Union with over
434,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the
last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most
Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has
many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing,
chemicals and other trades.
John Hannett and Amril Haque Amin (President of the Bangladesh
National Garment Workers Federation) speaking about the Rana Plaza
disaster at TUC 2013 in Bournemouth: http://youtu.be/iQTyFHLBjhc
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news