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Human Rights Commissioner welcomes agreement on greater protection for workers and on improved working conditions in Bangladesh

17.05.2013

Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Markus Löning issued the following statement today (17 May) on the conclusion of an agreement intended to ensure greater safety in Bangladesh’s textile factories:

I am delighted that leading textile companies have concluded an agreement on ensuring greater protection for workers and on improving working conditions in factories. Companies and consumers have a responsibility for the protection of workers at production lines and sewing machines around the world.
The agreement is thus an important but also overdue step. The task now is to ensure that the agreement is implemented swiftly and complied with on a durable basis.

Background

Three weeks after the disastrous collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh, which caused the death of more than one thousand people, 31 Western clothing companies have signed an agreement on greater building safety at production sites.

In this agreement, companies undertake to cover their suppliers’ maintenance costs. Furthermore, the agreement provides for independent safety inspections, mandatory repairs and renovations as well as the involvement of employees and trade unions in decisions and makes it possible for companies to end business with factories if they refuse to take such safety measures.

The agreement is binding between the Western companies, international trade unions and manufacturers in Bangladesh. Well-known international companies including H&M, PVH, Primark and Mango are among the signatories. From Germany, C&A, Tchibo, Hess Natur, Kik, Aldi, Rewe and Lidl have signed the agreement.

Following the disaster, the Government of Bangladesh has also decided to act. For the first time, independent trade unions are to be allowed in the textile industry. Until now, the factory owner’s consent was required before a trade union could be formed.

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