NRF criticizes Bangladesh safety accord

New York -- The National Retail Federation on Wednesday criticized a fire-and-building safety agreement for Bangladesh, led by labor groups such as Europe's IndustriALL.  

"While the proposal put forth by the labor unions addresses a number of shared concerns, the accord veers away from commonsense solutions and seeks to advance a narrow agenda driven by special interests," NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Wednesday is the deadline for retailers to decide whether to sign the agreement, which is designed to prevent a repeat of another disaster in Bangladesh's garment industry.

The pact includes a binding arbitration process that would be enforceable in the courts of the country where a company is domiciled, Reuters reported.  Also, companies that sign on have to agree to fund activities of a steering committee, safety inspector and training coordinator, contributing up to $500,000 per year for each of the five years of the agreement.

Among the U.S. retailers that have said they would not sign the accord is Gap Inc., which wants changes to the way conflicts are resolved in the courts. Wal-Mart Stores said it would not sign the accord because it believes its own stepped-up safety inspection plans will achieve faster results.

Companies that signed on include Inditex, parent company of Zara, H&M, and Arcadia Group, parent of TopShop.


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