If the horrific garment factory collapse last month in Bangladesh has any silver lining, it is the response from more than 30 of the world’s leading apparel companies — including Benetton, PVH, Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, Inditex (Zara), Marks & Spencer and Tesco — to sign an agreement to protect the safety and lives of that nation’s workers, who make the companies’ products.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is a historic advance over the voluntary private factory monitoring that has failed to prevent the recent disasters in Bangladesh and in places around the world where clothes are stitched for the global market. The signatory firms have made a legally binding, five-year commitment to establish a monitoring regime in which workers and their unions will participate, and to pay enough money into the system to fix the problems it uncovers.
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James Brudney and Catherine Fisk are law professors at Fordham Law School and the University of California-Irvine Law School, respectively. They wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.