Investor Letters Urging Further Action on Worker Safety in Bangladesh

On the second anniverary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, in April of 2015, a coalition of global investors representing $2.5 trillion in assets sent letters to corporate members of the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety (Accord) and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) requesting that they disclose efforts to safeguard the lives of workers in Bangladesh garment factories.  Read the three letters, and see their signatories.

Below is the text of the letter sent to members of the Alliance:

We, the undersigned, are investors who have been part of an initiative in response to the tragic building collapse at Rana Plaza in April of 2013 that killed 1,138 garment workers and injured over 2,500 others. This global investor initiative includes over 200 organizations representing over $4.1 trillion in assets under management from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia. 

We are aware that (Company) is participating in the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. As the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse approaches, questions and concerns remain about remediation efforts and the establishment of factory worker/management occupational safety and health committees at this critical time.  

In order to implement corrective action plans, financing must be made available and accessible to factories in a timely manner.  Based on the Alliance 18 Month Update (March 9, 2015), we understand that a few members have issued low-cost remediation loans and changes to factory payment terms  to some suppliers and that an Alliance credit facility is being developed to provide loans to suppliers.  As investors we are seeking to understand how remediation plans are proceeding and whether they are sufficiently funded. It is essential to establish solid financial arrangements between brands and factories to create safe factories that are sustainable. 

  • What is (Company) doing to ensure that suppliers and factory owners have the financial capacity to address remediation requirements? 

We request that you disclose the type of financing arrangements that are being made so that corrective actions are implemented by factories without delay.  

Occupational safety and health (OSH) committees are also an integral component of transparency, accountability and long-term sustainability of safe workplaces. The establishment of these committees is an important structure for detecting, reporting and remediating potential issues before they become a risk to workers, suppliers and brands. We understand that the Alliance will pilot OSH committees in 10 factories by June 2015. We recognize the challenges of organizing democratic elections of worker representatives on the OSH Committees in the absence of the implementing rules of the amended labor law which requires a committee at every workplace with more than fifty employees.  Company support of this process is vital to its implementation. It is essential that (Company) not only supports this process, but also communicates this support to its suppliers effectively.  

  • How is (Company) ensuring that suppliers will fully participate in the formation and functioning of democratically elected occupational safety and health committees? 

We recognize that other issues need to be addressed, but we view timely remediation financing and the formation of worker/management committees as key indicators for assessing if systemic changes are being carried out.  We look forward to receiving your response. 


Rev. David Schilling
Senior Program Director
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility


Alliance member companies receiving the letter:

Ariela and Associates International LLC
Canadian Tire Corporation Limited
Carter’s Inc.
The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc.
Costco Wholesale Corporation
Gap Inc.
Giant Tiger
Hudson’s Bay Company
IFG Corp.
Intradeco Apparel
J.C. Penney Company Inc.
The Jones Group Inc.
Jordache Enterprises, Inc.
The Just Group
Kohl’s Department Stores
L. L. Bean Inc.
M. Hidary & Company Inc.
Nordstrom Inc.
Public Clothing Company
Sears Holdings Corporation
Target Corporation
VF Corporation
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
YM Inc.

A similar letter was sent to companies belonging to the Accord:

List of Accord companies receiving the letter: 

Abercrombie & Fitch
American  Eagle  Outfitters
C & A
Fruit of the Loom
H & M
Marks & Spencer

 A third group of companies received a letter regarding donating to the Rana Plaza Fund.

List of Companies Receiving the letter Regarding the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund

Cato Fashions
The Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc.
JC Penney
Kohl's Department Stores

What it's like working as an 11-year-old in a garment factory

Nazma Akter, President of Bangladesh Sommilito Garments Shomik Federation

ICCR interviews Nazma Akter about her what it was like to work in a Bangladesh factory as a child.