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Brands accused of still blocking worker safety improvements 10 years after Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan

By Regina Henkel

9 Sept 2022

Business

Foto: Clean Clothes Campaign

In a press release on the tenth anniversary of the devastating fire at Ali Enterprises in Pakistan that killed 250 people, international NGO Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has accused the textile industry of not doing enough to improve standards despite numerous accidents, some of them fatal, in Pakistan's textile factories.

In particular, fashion retailers H&M, C&A, Bestseller and Zara are at the centre of criticism for sourcing from factories that oppose the extension of the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry (a successor to the Bangladesh Accord which was launched in response to the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh).

The Clean Clothes Campaign said it “stands united” with advocacy groups “around the globe to draw attention to the ongoing safety issues in factories in Pakistan and publicly call out brands like H&M, C&A, Zara, and Bestseller that are purposely delaying the expansion of the Accord that would protect worker safety”.

The organisation said that although the Accord's senior staff have recommended the initiation of a programme in Pakistan, the brand representatives on the Steering Committee, including H&M, C&A, Inditex, and Bestseller “have refused to join their labour counterparts in supporting the initiation”. Instead, the brand representatives have “insisted on delay after delay, to the point where their posture suggests not caution, but willful obstruction”.

As evidence of the continuing abuses, the Clean Clothes Campaign has published data showing recent incidents and ongoing safety risks in these brands' supply chains that could have been avoided or remedied by extending the agreement to the country, the NGO said.

Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign said: “Clean Clothes Campaign’s incidents report paints a scary picture of worker safety in Pakistan. But what is even scarier is that we don’t know the true extent of the safety violations in factories.

“If brands were to stop obstructing progress and agree to allow the International Accord to implement independent factory inspections in Pakistan, we could start to understand the factory renovations and repairs that need to be done in order to protect worker safety.”

Bangladesh Accord
Clean Clothes Campaign
International Accord
Workers Rights