A group of 17 U.S. retailers and clothing makers -- including Walmart, Target and Gap -- have agreed to a five-year safety pact aimed at improving conditions at Bangladesh apparel factories.
They're also agreeing to set up basic safety standards within three months. And it calls for inspecting all factories that supply their garments within a year.
Retailers have been under pressure to improve the oversight and safety of Bangladesh factories since an April building collapse killed 1,129 garment workers there. It was the deadliest incident in the history of the garment industry and followed a November fire in another Bangladesh garment factory fire that killed 112 workers.
The agreement is less stringent than the guidelines being pushed coalition of labor groups that called for third-party monitoring and labor representation and the coalition immediately lashed out at the retailers' plan, calling it a "sham."
"Worker representatives are not part of the agreement and have no role whatsoever in its governance," the labor groups said in a statement Wednesday. "Given the grave risks facing millions of workers in Bangladesh, there can be no credible or effective program without a central leadership role for worker representatives."
Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Campaign called the deal "an attempt to side-step the issue."
TVNL Comment: Far too little, far, far too late. Shame on them all.