River Island has signed the Bangladesh factory safety Accord, a union-backed agreement designed to improve workplace safety in the country, following the Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed more than 1,000 textile workers five months ago.
The fashion brand was one of eight UK retailers holding out against the Bangladesh fire and building safety accord, which has already been backed by most of the big names on the UK high street including Zara, Next, Primark, New Look and Debenhams.
In a statement River Island said it signed the agreement after: “Careful consideration and on-going discussions with relevant parties”.
It added: “Our objective throughout has been to establish a long-term framework for improving working conditions in the countries that we produce in. We feel the Accord is the best vehicle to bring about significant changes to the region.”
A number of fashion retailers had been criticised by campaign groups for not signing the agreement earlier, including Arcadia, which only signed the Accord last week. The move by both retail groups means that they will be committed, along with around 90 other brands and retailers, to funding inspection and safety training in over 1,700 factories across Bangladesh.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), which has been campaigning to get UK-based brands to sign the Accord through its ‘Going to Work’ network, has now turned the spotlight on the seven other fashion retailers - Peacocks, Jane Norman, Bench, Bank Fashion, Republic, Matalan and Mexx, until they sign.
Fashion retailer River Island signs Bangladesh safety agreement
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We’re pleased River Island has stepped up to its responsibilities for its workers’ safety in Bangladesh. The few remaining brands outside the accord now need to consider their position even more urgently. No-one’s life should be worth as little as a few extra pence on a T-shirt.”
By signing the Accord, which has been drawn up by international union IndustriALL, each retailer has signed a legally binding pledge to finance independent factory inspections and the installation of fire safety measures to ensure that no worker fears fire, building collapses or other accidents.
Image: TUC’s ‘Going to Work’ campaign