I started my own campaign on CREDO's new site that allows activists to start their own petitions.
My petition, which is to Walmart, Sears, JC Penney and major American brands, and their suppliers in Bangladesh, asks the following:
Take immediate steps to deploy safety improvements in your supplier factories by joining the legally binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement and pay the compensation owed to injured workers and the families of workers killed while sewing your clothing in Bangladesh. Furthermore, work with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's government in Bangladesh to allow workers to form unions and improve safety and health inspections in your supply chain.
I feel lucky that I survived the fire last November, but my heart hurts for all the victims of the Tazreen fire, the recent Rana Plaza building collapse and for the hundreds of other workers who have been killed in Bangladesh at factories where clothes were being manufactured for Walmart, Sears, JC Penney and other American retailers.
Over 360 people have died in Bangladesh since last week, after the collapse of an eight-story factory building where clothes were being manufactured for American and European consumers. Although workers had their doubts about entering the building since cracks had developed on the facade, managers forced the workers to enter the building and work as usual.
The disaster at Rana Plaza is now the deadliest incident in the garment industry in known history. Two of the brands identified in documents found in the rubble are sold at JC Penney. The building collapse is but one in a series of disasters that could have been prevented, had the largest apparel buyers learned from earlier tragedies and adopted the safety measures urged by unions and labor rights groups. In December 2010, 29 workers perished in the That's It Sportswear factory fire, where clothing destined for JC Penney was found. Then, just last fall disaster struck again. The fire at Tazreen, a supplier to Walmart and Sears, took the lives of 112 garment workers. These are only three of the dozens of preventable incidents that have taken garment workers' lives in Bangladesh. This pattern of fires and building collapses will not end unless retailers make real change in their sourcing practices.
As noted in a powerful New York Times editorial, "the severity and frequency of these disasters are an indictment of global clothing brands and retailers like Walmart, H&M and the Gap, which buy billions of dollars of clothes from Bangladesh but have so far refused to demand and pay for adequate safeguards at the factories that fill their orders."
Enough is enough. We cannot let American companies get away with ignoring basic safety violations and human rights abuses.
Thank you for your support.