LONDON MEP Jean Lambert has added her name to calls for all British clothes retailers importing textiles from South Asia to sign up to an accord promoting fire and building safety in Bangladeshi factories.
Ms Lambert welcomed the recent decision of H&M and Primark to sign up to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement – but said she was disappointed the prominent retailers GAP and Wal-Mart had so far failed to do so.
The agreement calls for better training, regular safety inspections, and a greater role for trade unions and the International Labour Organisation.
The Green MEP said: “In the wake of the tragic loss of more than 1,000 lives in the tragic collapse of a building housing textile factories in Bangladesh, the consumer has spoken.
“The Bangladeshi Government is now making progress in the area of protecting workers from unscrupulous building owners and predatory clothes retailers, but there is real work to be done and that needs the co-operation of all stakeholders.
“The consumer has spoken: no British shopper wants ‘blood on their hands’ – and it’s now time for all British retailers importing textiles from the region to sign the agreement and take real steps towards preventing another terrible industrial accident in Bangladesh.”
The Green MEP’s call comes just days after the Trade Union Congress revealed research showing it would only add 2p to the price of a T-shirt sold on the British High Street to double the wages of workers in Bangladeshi textile factories.
Just last week the Bangladesh Government agreed to raise the minimum wage for textile workers, and to increase the reach of trade unions in the country, in line with calls from the European Parliament spearheaded by Green MEPs.
Ms Lambert, who chairs the European Parliament’s Delegation to South Asia, added: “It is essential that international labour and health and safety standards are met – and that the EU does everything it can to help bring that about.
“As consumers, we should be confident that the clothes we are wearing have not put someone’s life at risk, wherever they work.”