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Activists Allege Benetton Reneged on Bangladesh Accord Promises

On Tuesday, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) issued a statement demanding that Benetton fulfill the promises it made as a member of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (AFBSB).

An investigation conducted by journalists from Presa Diretta, in tandem with CCC, allegedly discovered that Benetton failed to fully disclose all the suppliers it contracts with in Bangladesh and has yet to contribute the $5 million it pledged when it joined the AFBSB in May 2013. The journalists uncovered evidence that Benetton has yet to report at least two of the suppliers it uses, which violates one the bedrock premises of the AFBSB charter. This means that Benetton is still manufacturing apparel at factories that have not been inspected, and are not scheduled to be inspected.

Benetton’s record of cooperation has been a spotty one since the Rana Plaza building collapse that claimed more than 1,100 lives last April. Initially, Benetton officials vehemently denied that it used any of the suppliers in the Rana Plaza factories but later photographic evidence surfaced showing this to be untrue. Subsequently, Benetton was instrumental in devising a process known as the “Arrangment,” forwarded by the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, that detailed how compensatory payments would be delivered from brands and retailers to the victims of the disaster. However, Benetton ultimately refused to sign the agreement and has never contributed to the fund it helped to establish.

Deborah Luccetti, a spokesperson for CCC, said:

“The Clean Clothes Campaign has full confidence that the Accord will add these suppliers to the list for inspection, but it is clear that Benetton is still not taking responsibility for the rights of the workers making their clothes. We call on Benetton to change its attitude toward the right for victims to be fairly compensated by signing the Arrangement and making a contribution of at least 5 million dollars into the international Trust Fund. We expert Benetton to announce it publicly by the next RP anniversary, this way leading the process to get justice for the victims. We call on the other Italian brands sourcing from Rana Plaza, Manifattura Corona and Yes Zee, to do same.”

After the Rana Plaza tragedy, the two consortia of retailers who outsource apparel production to factories in Bangladesh were separately created to supervise desperately needed reforms and finance costly factory improvements. The E.U.-led AFBSB plans to inspect the approximately 1,000 factories that directly supply them with garments. There is also a U.S.-brokered Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety that covers another 700.