By  on August 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh said that the Bangladesh government’s Inspector General has filed a case against Newtech Apparels Ltd. for failing to comply with an evacuation order that is endangering the lives of garment employees working in an unsafe multistory building.

The accord, led by IndustriAll Global Union and UNI Global Union and signed by 180 companies, including H&M, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour, Primark and C&A, was launched in May 2013 amid intense global scrutiny following a fire and building collapse in the country’s apparel industry that claimed the lives of more than 1,200 workers.

Over the past year, it has been inspecting 1,500 garment factories in Bangladesh as part of a binding, five-year commitment made by its member retailers, brands and labor groups.

The accord said in a statement posted on its Web site that it issued a “critical finding” against Newtech during a structural inspection. A “critical finding” means engineers have determined that a factory is “unsafe for production and occupancy in its current state,” the accord said.

“In the case of Newtech Apparels Ltd., the accord’s engineers found that the concrete columns supporting the structure are severely overstressed,” the accord said.

On June 17, a government review panel recommended the evacuation of all floors of Newtech above the ground floor and the Bangladesh Inspector General, part of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, issued an evacuation order.

However, during another inspection of the factory in July, accord engineers found garment workers still working on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the structurally unsound building, and on Aug. 6 the accord verified that employees continued to work at the building despite the evacuation order.

The accord said it has notified the Inspector General, which has filed a case against Newtech for violating the law. It has also notified several accord signatory brands and retailers of the owner’s failure to comply with the evacuation order.

The statement was posted on the accord’s Web site to “ensure that all concerned stakeholders are aware that Newtech Apparels is unsafe for occupation and production.”

The accord called on the owner of Newtech Apparels to evacuate the facility immediately and to not allow workers in until the building is deemed safe for occupation.

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