Victory for Bangladeshi clothing workers: Kmart and Target first Aussie retailers to sign safety accord

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 07 Jun 2013

Kmart and Target’s decision to join a major Bangladeshi health and safety accord will help protect the safety of thousands of workers who make our clothes, according to Oxfam Australia.

Oxfam Australia Labour Rights Coordinator Daisy Gardener praised the retailers for prioritising the health and safety of clothing workers by signing on to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

“Kmart and Target are the only two Australian companies to have joined the likes of more than 40 global brands including Aldi, Zara and Esprit in signing on to an Accord that will help prevent further tragedies like the Rana Plaza building collapse in April,” Ms Gardener said.

“This will greatly improve safety for Bangladeshi workers in garment factories as it allows them to refuse dangerous work and mandates independent building inspections, workers’ health and safety training as well as repairs and renovations to unsafe factories.”

Ms Gardener said the pressure was now on other Australian retailers to follow suit.

“Cotton On, Big W and other Australian companies sourcing clothing from Bangladesh need to show they care about the workers who produce their clothing by immediately signing the Accord,” she said.

“Since 2005, 1800 people have lost their lives in factory fires and building collapses in Bangladesh.

“These clothing companies have the power to help prevent these tragedies, and must exercise this power now before more lives are lost.”

Oxfam has called on Australian clothing companies to reveal the locations of supplier factories so working conditions can be independently verified.

“Unfortunately, more than 17 years’ of research and experience has made it clear to Oxfam that sweatshop conditions in the global clothing industry are the norm, not the exception,” Ms Gardener said.

According to Ms Gardener, by asking Australian brands to lift their game, consumers have shown their ability to make a real difference.

“No brand is too big to listen to its customers,” she said.  “If enough consumers tell companies they care about the conditions under which their clothes are made, they will listen.”

For more information, or to set up an interview with Daisy Gardener, please contact Rachael Nightingale on 0449 881 980.