Oxfam Australia today welcomes the decision by Specialty Fashion Group – owners of Australian fashion labels Katies and Millers – to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord.
Specialty Fashion Group, whose labels also include City Chic, Crossroads, Stylefix and Autograph, becomes the fifth Australian company to join the Bangladesh Safety Accord that will help improve the safety of Bangladeshi garment workers.
Oxfam Australia Corporate Accountability and Fair Trade Adviser Daisy Gardener said the Specialty Group had signed onto international best practice on fire and building safety in Bangladesh, and urged other Australian companies to follow suit.
“With five major Australian clothing retailers now signed up to this important safety process, we are at a loss to understand why Woolworths (Big W), the Just Group (Just Jeans, Jay Jays), Best and Less, Rivers, and Pacific Brands (Bonds, Berlei) have not yet joined the Accord,” Ms Gardener said.
“When more than 1,100 people died in the Rana Plaza collapse in April, it became clear that immediate action was needed to ensure the safety of Bangladeshi garment workers. It has now been three months since the collapse and we need to see immediate action by Australian retailers.”
The Accord, which has been signed by more than 80 global retailers, including Target, Kmart, Forever New and Cotton On, gives workers the right to refuse dangerous work, and mandates independent building inspections, workers’ health and safety training, and repairs and renovations to unsafe factories.
“The devastation caused by the factory collapse has prompted many Australians to think twice about where their clothes come from,” Ms Gardener said. “Oxfam’s research shows consumers want Australian retailers to prevent further tragedies by taking greater responsibility and looking after the thousands of workers who make the clothes we wear every day.”
Oxfam Australia is also urging Australian garment companies to follow Kmart’s lead by publicly revealing the addresses of all supplier factories. Once Kmart publishes its supplier list, it will be possible for independent groups to verify wages and other conditions for workers in all countries where the company is sourcing.