Garment Industry Must Shed Exploitative Clothing

Labour MEP for Munster, Phil Prendergast, urged the EU Commissioner for Trade to ensure the proper enforcement of health and safety standards as a condition for access to EU consumer markets.


Speaking at today’s plenary debate with the Commissioner, in Strasbourg, further to the textile factory collapse in Bangladesh, Ms. Prendergast said:


“As Bangladesh’s largest trading partner, the EU cannot idly stand by while fatal accidents proliferate in slave-like working conditions.


“Voluntary, corporate auditing has proved woefully inadequate, as auditors had recently certified manufacturers operating in the building that collapsed.


“Bangladesh enjoys duty-free and quota free access to EU markets under a System of Preferences, and I acknowledge its importance for much-needed economic development, but the enforcement of binding commitments is necessary to prevent further loss of workers’ lives and guarantee decent working conditions.


“As individual consumers cannot verify the conditions their garments were manufactured under, the Commission must ensure adherence to binding instruments such as The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement and respect for the International Labour Organisation Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.


“While a number of garment retailers do take their obligations seriously, voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility has proved a fatal sham. We cannot put our faith in market instruments when lives are at stake, inBangladesh and elsewhere.”

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