Global investors call for Bangladesh safety disclosures
A coalition of global investors is calling on apparel brands and retailers to reveal more information on steps taken to improve conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh.
The group, which claims to represent investors with US$2.5 trillion in assets, has written to members of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, asking them to disclose their efforts to safeguard the lives of Bangladesh garment workers.
In particular, the coalition organised by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), warns that delays to larger-scale works on factories – such as remedying construction defects and installing sprinkler systems – are seen by investors as "human rights risks".
They also want to know about progress in establishing worker/management occupational safety and health committees, and are calling for more donations to be made to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund.
"Investors recognise that additional issues need to be addressed," said Pawel Pieniazek, research analyst for Sweden’s GES, a signatory of the letter.
"However, we view timely remediation financing and the formation of worker/management committees as key indicators for assessing if systemic changes are being carried out in garment factories producing for companies our clients invest in."
"Worker health and safety is a material issue for investors," added Adam Kanzer of Domini Social Investments and a leader in the ICCR-led Bangladesh Investor Initiative.
"When workers do not have an effective voice they are made vulnerable, and Rana Plaza has made it clear that their vulnerability creates risks for all of us. Investors take a long-term view; we are sticking to this issue and will continue to raise questions, press companies and assess progress until factories are sustainable and safe. We must work to ensure that our investment returns are built on a foundation of equity."
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