In mid-December, thumb more than two dozen people, ophthalmologist most of them poor women making luxury clothes for Americans, capsule either burned, fell or suffocated to death when a preventable preventable fire broke out in an unsafe, multi-story clothing sweatshop in Bangladesh. Several dozen more suffered severe burns.
We weren’t about to sit back and let such an easily preventable tragedy in a slave-like sweatshop producing luxury cloths for American companies go unanswered.
Today, six weeks after the fire, we are pleased to announce that after 65,000 Change.org members from more than 70 countries called on all international companies sourcing from factory to take responsibility, every last one of them have finally pledged to do the right thing.
The multinationals that own the GAP, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Wrangler and Lee jeans, JC Penney, Osh Kosh B’Gosh, Abercrombie & Fitch and Target have all agreed to institute an immediate nationwide fire safety system and to ensure that the Hameem Group, which owns the factory where the fire took place, appropriately compensates workers and their families for their losses in the fire “in an amount based upon the lost wages of the deceased workers and in an amount that is acceptable to the relevant parties in Bangladesh.”
The companies agreed to meet directly with labor rights groups in Bangladesh and to institute a mandatory “proactive safety remediation program” in “all factories supplying to the brands.” They agreed to fund the program and to insure that the chief inspector is acceptable to Bangladeshi labor rights groups.
One word to summarize all that: YES!
The struggle to get these brands, owned by seven different companies, to agree to the demands of Bangladeshi labor rights groups hasn’t been easy, but labor activists dialoguing with the clothing companies have specifically told us that the Change.org action played a key role in getting some of these companies on to do the right thing.
For tens of thousands of Change.org members to have successfully leveraged our collective power to push seven multinationals with revenue streams in the hundreds of billions of dollars into both taking responsibility for this tragedy and make concrete, specific pledges in line with our demands is an amazing success!
Change.org members piled on the pressure as groups like the International Labor Rights Forum, the Maquila Solidarity Network, United Students Against Sweatshops, the Clean Cloths Campaign and the Workers Rights Corsortium took the lead in negotiating with the clothing companies to get concrete commitments.
And it’s not over… There is a big difference between seven multinational corporations pledging to do the right thing and actually doing it. So please hold the fireworks for a few weeks as we wait to see if these companies will live up to their commitments.
For now, we are ‘freezing’ the petition for a few weeks to give the companies time to live up to their commitments. Whatever happens, we’ll let you know.
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