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NGO statement alleges that Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety led by Gap, Wal-Mart contains "empty promises"

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Article
30 July 2013

[DOC] Statement from the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

Author: Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

...The 18 North American retailers and brands that have signed on thus far to the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety believe there are now two strong plans with a common goal, and Alliance members hope and expect to work with members of the EU-based Accord on Fire and Building Safety to achieve sustainable improvements to fire and building safety for workers in Bangladesh...

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Article
30 July 2013

[PDF] Comparison: The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Gap/Walmart scheme

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign, Intl. Labor Rights Forum and others

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Company response
29 July 2013

Statement from Gap

Author: Gap

...We are committed to creating lasting change for the workers in Bangladesh’s apparel sector, and will continue to report on the progress we make in the months and years ahead. While we have worked with and respect many of the organizations that have expressed concern toward the Alliance’s approach, we feel that the value of our efforts should be and will be judged by the impact we have on the ground to improve worker safety. Further, we are committed to ensuring that the various efforts to address fire and building safety in Bangladesh are aligned both in mission and in implementation. We look forward to building on our history of working with a broad set of stakeholders to achieve this aim...

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Article
28 July 2013

Retailers urged to take Bangladesh safety deal further [Bangladesh]

Author: Sarah Butler, Guardian

Workers rights groups are calling on retailers to use a legally binding deal to improve safety for clothes factory workers in Bangladesh as a blueprint for tackling similar problems elsewhere…It comes amid evidence that workers in Pakistan and China face greater workplace risks than those in Bangladesh…More than half of clothing factories inspected in Bangladesh and Pakistan failed to meet fire safety standards…safety issues such as blocked fire exits or a lack of alarms were the biggest single problem identified by inspectors, ahead of long working hours, low wages and the use of child labour.

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Article
26 July 2013

NYU’s Michael Posner: Bringing Human Rights to B-School [USA]

Author: Elizabeth Rowe, Bloomberg Businessweek

Most B-school students know they’re signing up for classes in subjects like accounting and finance, but they probably don’t expect to see human rights on the syllabus. Professor Michael Posner wants to change that...we’re now organizing a meeting in September [says Posner], looking at the issues facing the garment industry in Bangladesh...

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Article
23 July 2013

Letter to House and Senate Members

Author: Signed by: Daniel Duty, Vice President, Global Affairs, Target; Jay Jorgensen, Senior Vice President, Global Chief Compliance Officer, Wal-Mart Stores; Thomas A. Nelson, Vice President, Global Product Procurement, VF Corporation; Bobbi Silten, Senior Vice President, Global Responsibility, Gap Inc & President, Gap Foundation

Under the guidance of former U.S. Senators George J. Mitchell and Olympia Snowe, and with the help of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a group of North American retailers, industry associations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have come together to form the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (the “Alliance”) and launch the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide details about the Alliance and to identify some of the upcoming milestones.

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Article
19 July 2013

The $250 million commitment to Bangladesh’s factories misses the point

Author: Sarah Labowitz, research scholar on business and human rights at NYU Stern School of Business, in Quartz

Last week, almost 100 US and European companies made groundbreaking announcements about their efforts to improve working conditions in Bangladesh over the next five years. This was big news in the US, but hardly registered in Dhaka, where I was doing a fact-finding trip examining workplace safety in the garment sector. This disconnect is troubling and must be overcome if the efforts to improve factory safety and working conditions are to be successful.

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Article
11 July 2013

Gap spearheads new alliance for Bangladeshi worker safety - It's a step forward, writes Marc Gunther, but the question remains – who is ultimately responsible for worker safety in Bangladesh?

Author: Marc Gunther, Guardian (UK)

As the US companies unveiled their alliance in Washington, student protesters gathered outside, chanting "Shame on Walmart" and decrying the plan as a "fake safety scheme." It's not. It's a serious plan, with some money behind it, that includes a commitment to transparency, and mechanisms to enable workers to speak out about unsafe conditions. It's not perfect – the alliance's glaring flaw is a lack of participation from unions – but the US companies hope to bring in Bangladeshi and international labour groups...

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Article
10 July 2013

Safety scheme GAP and Walmart only 'empty promises'

Author: Worker Rights Consortium, Clean Clothes Campaign, Intl. Labor Rights Forum, Maquila Solidarity Network and United Students Against Sweatshops

Walmart and Gap, two corporations who have failed to prevent numerous worker deaths in Bangladesh, today announced a corporate-run factory auditing scheme, another in the long series of ineffective corporate auditing programs that these companies have touted for years...Walmart, Gap and the corporations that have chosen to join them, are unwilling to commit to a program under which they actually have to keep the promises they make to workers and accept financial responsibility for ensuring that their factories are made safe. Instead, they offer a program that mimics the Accord rhetorically, but that omits the features that make an agreement meaningful. We explain in detail below why this scheme falls far short of the program embodied in the binding, enforceable safety Accord.

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