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Walmart & Gap for improving safety in Bangladesh RMG units
03
Jul '13
The US apparel retailers Walmart and Gap are aiming at improving the safety standards of the readymade garment (RMG) factories in Bangladesh by implementing new safety proposals in their stakeholder factories.
 
Although Walmart and Gap Inc. have not participated in the Accord for Fire and Building safety in Bangladesh, they have taken several steps for strengthening the safety standards of the garment factories in Bangladesh.
 
According to the company representatives, Walmart and Gap Inc. have also joined a group of North American apparel retailers, brands and associations to develop and implement a new program to improve fire and safety regulations in the garment factories of Bangladesh.
 
In an interview with fibre2fashion, senior director of Public Affairs at Gap Inc., Mr. Debbie Mesloh, said, “We share the goals of the European Accord, but differ on the best way to get there. Our view continues to be that the right path forward needs to also include local stakeholders such as the Bangladesh Government, local industry and worker representatives.”
 
“We have joined a group of North American retailers, associations and brands organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center in the United States to develop a unified action plan to achieve effective and long-lasting change for the garment industry and its workers in Bangladesh and we also continue to take direct action through a fire and building safety program for Gap Inc. approved suppliers in Bangladesh that we started in October 2012,” he informs.
  
Echoing him, Ms. Megan Murphy, senior manager of International Corporate Affairs at Walmart, says, “At Walmart, we have taken a number of actions that meet or exceed other factory safety proposals which include strengthening safety standards for factories, a zero-tolerance policy for unauthorized subcontracting and increased transparency and requiring that in-depth safety audits and remediations be made to every factory directly producing products for us in Bangladesh, reflected in the cost of the goods that we buy.”
 
“We also believe that there is a need to partner with other stakeholders to improve the standards for workers across the industry by taking part in the development of a broader safety plan with other brands, retailers and the Bipartisan Policy Center as well as by building upon our previously announced commitments,” she adds.
 
The initiatives taken by Walmart for ensuring safety standards in Bangladesh RMG firms include contribution of US$ 1.6 million to launch the environmental health and safety academy in the country to provide comprehensive training on fire safety and environmental, health as well as workplace safety. 
 
Similarly, the fire and safety program of Gap Inc. includes a worker support program providing up to US$ 2 million to ensure that factory employees at Gap Inc.’s long lasting high-volume third party apparel manufacturers who are displaced from work because of fire safety remediations receive payment for work days missed as well as to provide vendors accelerated access of up to US$ 20 million in capital for safety improvements.
 

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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