Call on clothing companies to tackle corruption, factory safety

Pull-out following factory collapse won’t solve sector’s problems, Asian NGOs from three countries warn

Issued by Transparency International Bangladesh



Dhaka/Phnom Penh/Jakarta, 11 June 2013 – Global clothing companies must work with governments and local groups to improve factory safety and working conditions, the Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia chapters of anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) said in a joint statement today.

Media reports that some companies are turning away from Bangladesh send the wrong signal about their commitment to worker's rights and fighting corruption, the Transparency International chapters said. Instead, they should lobby the government to pass legal reforms to uplift the integrity in the sector and dedicate greater resources to the government officials responsible for safety inspection.

“Companies leaving in the face of such tragedies, or to avoid greater regulation, will only be punishing the victims of corruption rather than the perpetrators,” said Iftekhar Zaman, head of Transparency International Bangladesh. “The alternative to dumping business in Bangladesh is to work with the government on ensuring factories apply safety rules.”

80% of Bangladesh's exports come from the garment industry. More than 85% of the sector’s employees are women. The TI chapters commended initiatives already taken by companies, international organisations and local players to support the critically important readymade garments sector in general and workers’ rights in particular.

Two major factory accidents, a building collapse and a factory fire, have focused world attention on working conditions in Bangladesh and companies that source products there. Corruption is one of the factors making it harder to tackle the problem. Negligence, lacking resources, bribes involved in licensing and permits or collusion between factory owners and safety inspections allows facilities to remain even when dangers are identified.

The Rana Plaza building, whose collapse on 24 April 2013 caused more than 1000 deaths was allegedly constructed in an illegally occupied piece of land, and lacked permission for extra floors. The Tazreen factory had three illegal floors and no emergency exits and had lost its safety certificate months before the blaze that killed 112 people on 24 November 2012.

However, corruption is not confined to Bangladesh. Nine of the world’s 10 biggest clothing producers score less than 50 out of 100 in Transparency International’s 2012 , where 0 suggests extreme corruption and 100 is highly clean (see annex). This suggests widespread corruption risk which could make safety inspection vulnerable to bribery.

 “The legacy of the Savar tragedy should not be to scare business and investment away from Bangladesh, but to underscore the importance of conducting business with responsibility and integrity”, said Iftekhar Zaman.

Transparency International’s chapters in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia emphasised the need for stronger enforcement of current laws and with greater human, professional, legal and institutional capacity to prevent such disasters in the future. It is the duty of the governments to enact appropriate laws in consultation with public and trade unions to assure the safe working condition for the workers and corruption free investment in their countries.

The chapters also emphasised the shared responsibility of consumers - mainly in the developed world - to demand ethically-made products. Large responsibility also lies within the governments in developed countries to assure that their companies meet national and international labour standards and do not engage in corrupt practices in conducting business in other countries.

ANNEX

Source: IMF International Trade Statistics 2012 – excluding European Union data



 


For any press enquiries please contact

Media Contact:

Dhaka:
Rezwan-ul-Alam
+8801713065012    
E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Berlin:
Thomas Coombes
+49 30 34 38 20 666
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Supplementary downloads

Solicitude

Support Transparency International

Risky business: Europe’s golden visa programmes

Are EU Member States accepting too much risk in their investor migration schemes?

Future Against Corruption Award 2018

TI is calling on young people across the globe to join the anti-corruption movement. People between the age of 18 and 35 are invited to submit a short video clip presenting their idea on new ways to fight corruption. Three finalists will be invited to Berlin during the International Anti-Corruption Day festivities to be awarded with the Future Against Corruption Award. Apply today!

The Azerbaijani Laundromat one year on: has justice been served?

In September last year, a massive leak of bank records from 2012 to 2014 showed that the ruling elite of Azerbaijan ran a $3 billion slush fund and an international money laundering scheme. One year on, has enough been done to hold those involved to account?

Right to information: knowledge is power

The right to information is vital for preventing corruption. When citizens can access key facts and data from governments, it is more difficult to hide abuses of power and other illegal activities - governments can be held accountable.

Paradise lost among Maldives dodgy land deals

Should tourists run for cover as a storm of corruption allegations sweeps across the Maldives?

Foreign bribery rages unchecked in over half of global trade

There are many losers and few winners when companies bribe foreign public officials to win lucrative overseas contracts. In prioritising profits over principles, governments in most major exporting countries fail to prosecute companies flouting laws criminalising foreign bribery.

Ensuring that climate funds reach those in need

As climate change creates huge ecological and economic damage, more and more money is being given to at-risk countries to help them prevent it and adapt to its effects. But poorly governed climate finance can be diverted into private bank accounts and vanity projects, often leading to damaging effects.

Why rather

Follow us on Why rather