WASHINGTON — The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety said it has suspended operations with another seven factories, five of which were cited for failing to remove lockable exits.
“Any factory that is unwilling or unable to make progress on the repairs required to meet our safety standards is removed from our list of Alliance-compliant factories, without exception,” said Jim Moriarty, former U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh and Alliance country director. “Ensuring the safety of workers in Alliance-affiliated factories is our highest priority.”
The Alliance is made up of 29 mainly U.S. firms, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Gap Inc. and VF Corp. The industry-led initiative was formed in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy, which claimed the lives of 1,133 workers and injured more than 2,000, along with the separate Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, comprised of 200 mostly European companies with two global unions, IndustriALL and UNI Global Union.
The suspension actions bring the total number of factories suspended by the Alliance to 104.
Among the five factories failing to remove lockable exits were: Wucho Fashion Ltd., Stoffatext Fashions Ltd., Sajib Fashion Wear Ltd., Dana Sweater Industries Ltd. and Legend Textiles Ltd.
The two other factories suspended were Banalata Garments Ltd. and Trendex Furniture Ltd.
The Alliance does not name the brands for which the factories were making products.
In its annual report released earlier this month, the Alliance said that 55 percent of the targeted high-priority repairs in apparel factories in Bangladesh have been completed. The most critical repairs are considered those that are “most important for life safety” and are often the most costly and time-consuming for factories to achieve, the Alliance said. Such repairs include the importation and installation of fire doors, the reinforcement of structural beams and columns and the installation of sprinkler systems.
The Alliance has been working for nearly three years as part of a five-year commitment to inspect factories that its member companies use in Bangladesh, which currently stand at about 685.
Among the key activities it performs are independent inspections on the structural, electrical and fire safety of all factories from which its members source.
Factories receive corrective action plans aimed at helping address safety issues and achieving compliance with the Alliance’s safety standards. The group also provides technical advice and access to low-cost loans to assist factories with remediation. It said it is on track to remediate all critical safety issues in its active factories by 2018.