Get retailers to sign the Bangladesh fire and building safety agreement

On Wednesday, more than 300 people died after a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh. Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people were in the streets demanding safe workplaces.

We know the key to stopping tragedies like this ultimately lies with Gap, which has refused to sign a building safety agreement. Sumi and Kalpona went to Gap's headquarters this week to demand the company sign the agreement.

Can you help amplify their message by delivering a letter to the manager of a Gap store near you?

Download the letter

On Wednesday in Bangladesh, nearly 2,000 workers were trapped as the Rana Plaza building -- which housed a major garment factory -- crumbled to pieces. Emergency personnel are still searching for survivors trapped in the rubble, and the death toll is rising every hour. So far, more than 300 people have been confirmed killed and hundreds more have been injured.

According to workers who were on the scene, a crack had developed in the building on Tuesday, triggering an evacuation order. Bank employees were told to stay home the next day, but garment workers sewing clothes for major western brands were ordered to return to the production floor.

Of everything about this tragedy, there is one main thing that makes our blood boil -- Gap, Walmart, and other retailers have been actively obstructing reforms that could protect Bangladeshi workers from disasters like this. For years labor unions, human rights activists and hundreds of thousands of consumers like us have called on these retailers to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, which would ensure that Bangladeshi garment workers don't have to work in death traps. But corporations keep refusing to sign, factories keep burning and collapsing, and workers keep dying.

At this point, Gap is key to the success of this agreement. It is a major purchaser of Bangladeshi garments, and other retailers look to Gap for cues on safety standards. Gap was even in negotiations with labor leaders to join the agreement -- but it inexplicably backed away.

We need to show Gap that consumers are still holding it accountable for the deplorable conditions in the Bangladeshi garment industry. If Gap executives realize we are upset enough by this catastrophe to take time out of our busy days and talk to managers at our local stores, we will certainly get the CEO's attention and get the company back to the negotiating table. Let's translate our sorrow and anger over this catastrophe into action. A few meaningful conversations with Gap managers could hopefully prevent this from happening again.

Can we count on you to deliver a letter to a Gap store, or a location of one of the other brands Gap owns, Old Navy or Banana Republic?

Click here to download our letter to store managers and to get further instructions on delivering it.

In the wake of the Tazreen fire, which killed 112 Bangladeshi garment workers last November, the community mobilized to show these brands that we are paying attention to the deplorable conditions in their supply chain. With our help, Sumi Abedin, a Tazreen survivor, and Kalpona Akter, a Bangladeshi labor activist, came to the U.S. to challenge brands to take responsibility for their workers' safety. Retailers don't want to listen to them, but this latest tragedy shows how urgent these reforms are. Gap might not have sourced from Rana Plaza, but if it doesn't sign the building safety agreement, a similar disaster could strike a Gap supplier any day.

It would be easy for Gap to ensure that that people making its clothes have access to fire extinguishers and unlocked doors and other basic fire safety precautions that we take for granted. Other retailers, like the German retailer Tchibo and PVH (which own Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger), have already signed on to the Bangladesh Fire Safety Agreement. This agreement funds independent monitoring and investments in the most basic safety precautions. But instead of joining this existing program, Gap struck out on its own, creating a program that's not accountable to anyone except Gap shareholders.

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands Bangladeshi workers walked off the job and took to the streets demanding justice. They're marching on government offices and the headquarters of the country's main manufacturer's association. Meanwhile, Sumi and Kalpona were in San Francisco, rallying with their allies at Gap's corporate headquarters. All of them have one simple message: no one should die making clothes. We want that message to echo across the globe.

Will you join us?

Yes! Sign me up to drop off a letter at a Gap store.

Thanks for standing up for workers everywhere,
Rob, Kaytee, and the rest of us



More info:

"Rescuers Still Hope For Survivors In Bangladesh Collapse," NPR, April 26
"Big brands rejected Bangladesh factory safety plan," Yahoo! News, April 26


SumOfUs is a world-wide movement to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable path for our global economy. You can follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook. Click here to add yourself to SumOfUs.


Three GAP stores in Australia listed at :

Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone, VIC 3148, Melbourne, phone (03) 9568 4287

Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe Street, VIC 3000, Melbourne, phone (03) 9639 9723

Westfield Sydney, 188 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Sydney, phone (02) 9232 1157