On July 10, 2013, 17 U.S. and Canadian brands and retailers officially launched the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the corresponding Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, a binding, five-year initiative that sets aggressive timelines and accountability for inspections, training, and worker empowerment. The members of the Alliance will provide funding—currently at $42 million and growing—to support the specific programs of the initiative, with some companies offering a combined total of over $100 million in loans and access to capital to assist factory owners they work with in Bangladesh for factory safety improvements. The initiative was developed under the guidance of former U.S. Senators George Mitchell (D) and Olympia Snowe (R), who acted as independent facilitators at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. More information can be found at the Alliance website, www.bangladeshworkersafety.org.
USA-ITA, now the United States Fashion Industry Association, is proud to have been part of the discussions, working with many of our member companies and industry colleagues to provide assistance to the brands and retailers as needed over the past few months. As noted in our previous statement, we support any and all efforts by our members to improve worker safety in Bangladesh—whether you join the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, sign the Accord on Fire & Building Safety led by IndustriALL, work within your company, or some combination of the above.