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Danish companies support responsible textile production in Bangladesh

Six Danish companies have decided to sign an international accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh.

Babylon Garments Ltd. in Dhaka, where women are packing clothes.

Babylon Garments Ltd. in Dhaka, where women are packing clothes.

Photo: Jørgen Schytte/Danida

The Danish Ethical Trading Initiative (DIEH), their Norwegian sister organisation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held today an information meeting for the Nordic textile sector regarding the new international accord on fire and building safety in the garment industry in Bangladesh.

The meeting was held as a part of the process of implementing the Danish Partnership for Responsible Textile Production in Bangladesh, an agreement which was reached between the Government and the Danish textile sector 17 May 2013. The purpose of the meeting was to present the new accord to Danish companies and determine a process and timeline for the possible participation of Danish companies in the programme.

At the meeting, the accord and the status of the implementation plan were presented, and on this basis six Danish companies decided to sign the agreement. The six companies were Bestseller, IC Companys, DK Company, the PWT Group, COOP Danmark and Dansk Supermarked. At the meeting, a proposal was put forward about establishing a mechanism that would be able to support the participation of small-scale clothing companies in the accord. This possibility will be discussed further with the parties responsible for the accord. Small-scale companies are now awaiting the outcome of these discussions. At the meeting, it became clear that the new international accord currently only applies to the garment sector, which is why companies such as JYSK must await clarification from the organisation responsible for the accord as to whether home textiles will be included. Also, the accord applies only to garment manufacturers, which means that companies that supply materials to the textile sector that are produced, for example, in Bangladesh may not join the accord.

“It is extremely encouraging that a number of Danish companies have decided today to sign the international accord. After all, we can achieve more working together. Companies, trade unions, organisations, consumers and we politicians each bear a share of the responsibility for ensuring better working conditions in the garment industry. This challenge is now being taken up, to the benefit of the garment workers in Bangladesh”, says Minister for Trade and Investment Pia Olsen Dyhr.

“It is an important step and will benefit the many seamstresses and textile workers in Bangladesh. The textile sector in Bangladesh has lifted millions of people out of poverty and means a great deal for the country’s social and economic development. The solution is, therefore, not to stay away but rather to increase the engagement and ensure proper working conditions. That is something the accord can contribute to, and that is why Danish companies need to be a part of it”, says Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach.

“It is very good news for the Danish Partnership that the Danish companies have now signed the international accord. This means that Denmark now also supports the international initiative which will improve safety for the workers in the garment industry in Bangladesh. The Danish Partnership will of course continue to work to increase awareness of the accord and support the participation of small-scale Danish clothing companies in the accord. In this way we can help to ensure that the Danish clothing sector broadly supports the accord. We will also continue our cooperation with the Norwegian Ethical Trading Initiative in order to spread awareness about the accord in the other Nordic countries”, says Hanne Gürtler, Director of DIEH.

The international accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh is an historic accord between the international trade union organisation IndustriAll and UNI Global Union and the international garment sector. The accord runs over a five-year period, and the objective is to create a safe and sustainable garment industry in Bangladesh, where workers do not need to fear fire, buildings collapsing or other accidents that could have been avoided through reasonable health and safety measures. Up until now, over 50 companies have signed the accord, and more are joining it all the time, just as the six Danish companies have now done.

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