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Historic Deal Holds Company Accountable for Factory Conditions

The unnamed company will pay $2 million to fix 150 factories and another $300,000 to fund union safety work

Brian Young's picture
Jan 23, 2018

In 2013, Rana Plaza, a factory in Bangladesh that produced apparel for some of the world’s most well-known brands, collapsed and killed 1,135 people. This tragedy, considered to be the world’s worst textile tragedy, brought about many changes including the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety. Over the past five years, unions have also begun bringing cases to the International Court to hold bad companies accountable and to force them to make safety changes to protect their workers. This week one of those companies agreed to a historic deal.

IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, unions that represent tens of millions of people worldwide, have been bringing cases before the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague targeting brands that use factories that are unsafe to work in. This case was brought because the unnamed company was using a facility that had structural faults, lacked fire doors and sprinklers and kept the employees behind a locked gate.

The settlement between the unions and the company, who as part of the deal are remaining nameless, will provide $2 Million dollars to fix safety concerns at more than 150 factories that provide goods to the company. An additional $300,000 will go to the unions to support their joint “supply chain worker support fund”, an initiative that supports union-backed efforts to improve pay and conditions for workers in global supply chains.

“This settlement shows that the Bangladesh Accord works. It is proof that legally binding mechanisms can hold multinational companies to account,” IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches told the Guardian. “We are glad that the brand in question is now taking seriously its responsibility for the safety of its supplier factories in Bangladesh. Their financial commitment serves as an example for other brands to follow.”

This is the second case that the unions have won in the last two months. In December 2017 they reached an agreement to fix 200 factories. The specifics of that agreement are being kept even quieter, with no money amount being publicly given.

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