LONDON MEP Jean Lambert has joined fellow Greens from across the EU in demanding a raft of measures to prevent a repeat of last month’s Bangladesh factory disaster.
The Rana Plaza factory complex on the outskirts of the Bangladesh capital Dacca – which contained several garment factories making clothes for sale on the British High Street – collapsed on April 24th, leaving more than 1,000 dead and over 2,500 injured.
Green MEPs are demanding that all retailers sourcing their clothes from Bangladesh sign up to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement – and contribute to compensation to all the disaster’s victims and their families.
Greens are calling for health and safety agreements to form a binding part of all trade deals between the EU and other nations – and for Bangladesh to step up its efforts to prevent illegal building construction, and to ensure that workers’ rights to play a role in improving workplace safety becomes a reality.
Ms Lambert said: “Our first thoughts about this disaster are, of course, with the victims and their families.
“But we must recognise that the government of Bangladesh is making great strides in this area – and we must share some of the responsibility, and work towards solutions to prevent any future factory disasters, here in the EU.
“After all, 80% of Bangladesh’s exports are garments, and most of those are eventually sold here in the EU: many women, in particular, rely on this work for their living.
“We must make sure health and safety, and union rights, are at the core of this trade, and that all retailers play their part too: improving the standards they insist on from their suppliers and working with the authorities, workers and producers to achieve that goal.
“It would cost them only 8p per garment sold, for example, to meet the costs of elevating safety standards to western levels within five years.”
MEPs are due to debate a formal EU response to the disaster – and consider the Green proposals – tomorrow.