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1,100 Factory Deaths One Year On: Coles Still Using Bangladesh Sweatshops


One year after the Rana Plaza collapse that resulted in 1,100 factory deaths, the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has notified the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh of suspected human rights abuses by Australian retailer Coles.
 
TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 24 April 2014

In the wake of the tragedy, the Bangladesh Government is urging western firms like Coles to sign a Fire and Safety Accord, setting legally enforceable minimum working standards for garment workers.
 
Transport Workers’ Union National Secretary Tony Sheldon said other Australian retailers such as Woolworths, K-Mart and Target had signed the Fire and Safety Accord. But Coles refuses to sign.
 
“At Coles’ AGM last year, they said they had stopped buying clothes from Bangladesh, but as recently as January, Coles was still selling Bangladesh clothing, likely sourced from sweatshops and firetraps like Rana Plaza," Mr Sheldon said
 
“We’ve made this notification to the Human Rights Commission because basic labour rights are protected in the Bangladesh constitution and it is unconscionable that Coles believes they are above the law – it has to stop.
 
“Coles think they can lie and get away with it, and it’s not just international workers paying the price. Coles also puts Australian lives at risk with 28% of Coles drivers feeling pressure to speed and 46% feel pressure to skip breaks. Each year, up to 330 people die in truck-related crashes on our roads.”
 
Today marks the first anniversary of the factory collapse in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh, which killed 1,100 people.
 
The TWU has organized a candlelight vigil to pay respects to the victims of Rana Plaza and honour their memories by fighting for safe work everywhere.  
The Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord is an initiative of the Bangladesh Government and key NGOs, and sets minimum standards for safe work, fair pay and enforcement of workplace rights in Bangladesh.

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