Labor unions, activists and students have declared Saturday, June 29, 2013, an International Day of Action to End Deathtraps.
Participants will take action at Gap and Wal-Mart stores – picketing and handing out flyers – to force the companies to take responsibility for the safety of their workers, specifically in Bangladesh’s garment industry, the second-largest clothing exporter after China.
Retailers like Gap and Wal-Mart place intense pressure on their Bangladeshi factories to produce clothes at rock-bottom prices in buildings that function as literal deathtraps for workers. In April, over 1,100 garment workers perished in the Rana Plaza collapse, marking the deadliest industrial disaster in a manufacturing facility in recorded history. Since 2005, more than 1,800 garment workers have died in preventable factory fires and building collapses in Bangladesh alone.
In response to these catastrophes, activists across the world have joined with unions to demand apparel companies sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. This unprecedented, legally-binding agreement will require independent inspections by trained fire safety experts, mandatory repairs and renovations, and, most importantly, a central role for workers and their unions. This agreement will empower workers to transform Bangladeshi factories from deathtraps to safe workplaces, saving the lives of thousands of workers who risk their lives every time they go to work.
More than 40 brands and retailers, including H&M, PVH, and Abercrombie & Fitch, have signed on to the agreement. But after weeks of pressure by people across the globe to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, Gap and Wal-Mart just announced they’re partnering on a fake “safety plan” that is non-binding and excludes workers.
Under the binding safety accord, the estimated costs of proposed factory renovations for Wal-Mart would be just 0.2 percent of the company’s profit last year, and just 1 percent of the dividends paid out last year to the Walton family heirs. For Gap, the costs represent, at most, just 0.8 percent of Gap’s profits last year, and just 1.5 percent of the net wealth of Gap Co-founder Doris Fisher.
Workers lives are on the line – there’s too much at stake for Gap and Wal-Mart to continue their business-as-usual approach to fire and building safety.
For more information on the International Day of Action to End Deathtraps on Saturday, June 29, 2013, details about an action taking place in a city near you, or to plan your own, visit gapdeathtraps.com.
To read the full Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, click here.