Swedish multinational retail-clothing company H&M has said that it believes that the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety is an important initiative that is making the textile industry in Bangladesh safer. But it has pointed out that it has not been properly mentioned in the Accord update report.
“Any delay of the work of the Bangladesh Accord on fire and building safety is therefore of great concern to us. However, we do not recognize ourselves in the picture given in the report,” it said in its Sustainability Update report.
The Sustainability Update report contains a few points of clarifications.
“First, we are only producing in factories that meet the Accord requirements for operation and we have taken the required measurements. Secondly, fire exits are one of the most fundamental requirements for a supplier in order to be allowed to produce for H&M. Thirdly, our own internal follow-up data shows that where H&M is lead-brand, almost 60 per cent of the remediation work is completed and we see good progress.
“Also, we have worked out solutions for all financial support requests together with our suppliers and are cooperating closely with them to remediate according to corrective and tailor-made action plans. As our presence in Bangladesh is long-term, it contributes not only financially to the individual factory, but also to the development of the textile industry as well as to the Bangladeshi community as a whole,” it said.
H&M said it is correct that the company and the other buyers within the Accord are experiencing some delays to work being carried out to initial timelines. For example, there have been problems with deliveries of new upgraded fire doors and sprinklers due to import delays since none of these products are available in Bangladesh. Delays are also due to heavy workload for the Accord inspection experts dealing with these complex issues. This has also resulted in delayed updates of the information publicly available on the Accord website.
“For us, it is of utmost importance that measures taken are according to the high quality standards agreed between the Bangladesh Government and the Accord/Alliance,” H&M said.
H&M said it would continue its long-term investment by fully supporting its suppliers in improving and upgrading their production facilities to safer and higher international standards as well as their management capabilities, allowing them to become competitive in a sustainable way.
“We have a very active role within the Accord and are now looking at how we, together with the other buyers and global unions, can push the work forward. We have worked with fire and building safety for many years and we were the first company to sign the Accord. We have a staff of nearly 600 in Bangladesh, who work full time on all aspects of production including the Accord,” it said. (SH)