No One’s Willing to Pay for Safety Upgrades in Bangladesh

According to a recent story at Quartz, little has been done to improve factory conditions in Bangladesh, because no one’s willing to pay for it.

Nearly all of the factors that led to the 1,134 deaths caused by the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 — inadequate safety standards and a lack of corporate oversight and accountability at “off-the-grid factories” tasked with producing the world’s cheapest clothing — still exist today.

But they shouldn’t, especially given the rapid implementation and recent extension of the Bangladesh Accord.

Signed in the wake of the Rana tragedy by around 1,600 companies and organizations, the accord stipulates that “signatory brands must ‘negotiate commercial terms with their suppliers which ensure that it is financially feasible for the factories to maintain safe workplaces and comply with upgrade and remediation requirements.”

The problem, however, is that the accord placed the estimated $448 million financial burden for those fixes on the factories themselves (who, it’s worth nothing, were left out of the original accord negotiations), and they simply can’t afford it.

What’s more, “Factories can be blacklisted if they don’t perform fixes called for by the accord’s inspections. Brands, on the other hand, cannot be kicked out of the agreement. If they’re accused of not paying their fair share, they go through a dispute resolution process… [but] factory owners rarely call out any individual brand, for fear of losing business…”

And, as long as that’s the case, and brands continue to refuse to step up and foot the bill themselves, “debates over who will actually do so — if anyone — aren’t likely to be resolved soon.”

You can read more about it at Quartz.

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