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 Corruption Perceptions Index, 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

Perceived Corruption in Top Clothing Exporters

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

Latest

Support Transparency International

Fighting land corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa: Widows tell their story

See a short film created by Ghanaian widows evicted from their land who decided to organise and challenge official indifference.

Corruption in Asia Pacific: what 20,000+ people told us

We spoke to nearly 22,000 people about their recent experiences with corruption in 16 countries and territories in the Asia Pacific region. See what they revealed.

FIFA must do more to win back trust of football fans

It’s been one year since Gianni Infantino was elected president of FIFA with promises to clean up football. How do football fans think he's doing?

17 commitments for a clean Bulgaria – will politicians sign on?

Bulgaria’s voters will head to the polls in a snap election on 26 March. Our chapter is urging politicians to commit to needed reforms.

Applications now open for the Transparency Summer School on Integrity 2017

Apply now for the Transparency School on Integrity (TISI), taking place during 10-16 July, 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Open data: promise, but not enough progress from G20 countries

G20 countries made commitments to publish data that could help curb corruption. How well are they keeping their promises?

República Dominicana marcha para acabar con la impunidad

Desde que salió a la luz el escándalo de corrupción en torno al constructor Odebrecht, miles de dominicanos salieron a la calle para denunciar la impunidad y luchar contra la corrupción.

Social Media

Hundreds of anti-corruption protesters arrested in Russia after mass demonstrations

Hundreds of people have been arrested in a crackdown in Russia after thousands gathered for massive anti-corruption protests Sunday in the nation's capital, and other demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the country.

abcnews.go.com

A Life Sentence in Cambodia, but Kem Ley’s Murder Is Far From Solved

The man on trial had admitted shooting Mr. Kem Ley, a government critic. But glaring holes in the case, which recalled past assassinations, raise troubling questions.

nytimes.com

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world