The collapse of the spectrum sweaters industries Ltd factory in Savar

Press release

FIDH, Karmojibi Nari and Odhikar wish to express complete solidarity with the families of the victims and the survivors of the collapse of the Spectrum Sweaters Industries Ltd factory in Savar, Bangladesh, on 11 April 2005.

The “Sramik Nirapotta” Forum, composed of NGOs and unions, has sent several requests to both the BGMEA (Board of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers) and to the national authorities. FIDH is pleased that some of these requests have been fulfilled. FIDH, Karmojibi Nari and Odhikar note that the owner of the factory agreed to respond to the arrest warrant and our organizations expect the authorities to carry out an independent and impartial investigation at the earliest so as to determine the responsibilities, and ensure that the people responsible are punished and the victims compensated. FIDH calls upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the authorities in charge of the investigation so as to determine exactly who is responsible.

In light of its ongoing cooperation with Carrefour, FIDH questioned the company on a number of issues.
<>FIDH has noted that Carrefour no longer has regular business relations with Shahriyar Fabric Industry Ltd which owns the factory that caved in. With regards to the Spectrum Sweaters factory itself, Carrefour received a consignment of 130,000 textile items in November 2004 from this factory but has not placed any new order since then. FIDH has also noted that an audit was carried out in September 2002 in certain production units belonging to this company but not on the factory that collapsed. In any case, that construction work that led to the collapse was carried out after the date of the audit.

Taking note of Carrefour’s commitment to ensure that everything be done to avoid such accidents in the future, FIDH, Karmojibi Nari and Odhikar stress the importance for Carrefour:

- to help provide support for the families of the victims and the survivors;

- to support the Forum’s contacts with the BGMEA and the Bangladeshi authorities so that the official investigation can be conducted as quickly as possible;

- to check the conditions of the buildings and premises of all of Carrefour’s suppliers in this zone, with the greatest immediacy, and establish a joint monitoring system which includes a worker representative in order to ensure compliance with national laws;

- to increase requirements stipulated in social audits concerning compliance with legal standards for its suppliers’ building, or at least systematically check that the suppliers have official documents confirming such compliance.

Since 2000, Carrefour has audited its suppliers in order to check that their practices, including health and safety measures at the work place live up to Carrefour’s supplier charter (code of conduct). These social audits do not mean that Carrefour should be replacing the State inspection services, which are responsible for verifying the compliance of the facilities with the safety standards in force. But, FIDH, Karmojibi Nari and Odhikar are encouraging Carrefour to systematically check that its suppliers respect the laws in force and provide evidence that the inspections provided for by law have been carried out and that, thereupon, a certificate of compliance has been issued. It is up to each country to guarantee the safety of its work force by establishing a qualified inspection system for industrial buildings and providing it with the resources needed to fulfill its assignment.

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