A coalition of 123 investors representing more than $1.2trn (€933m) in assets under management is calling for systemic reforms to worker safety and welfare and the adoption of “zero tolerance policies” on global supply chain abuses in the wake of the Bangladesh clothing factory disaster.
The statement has been prompted by the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka on April 24 which killed 1,127 people and other disasters such as the Tazreem factory fire in November and another lethal blaze in Dhaka on May 8.
“While these individual incidents have different root causes, collectively, they are a grave indictment of the human rights record of Bangladesh, and an illustration of the failure of the global companies that manufacture and source their products there to ensure humane working conditions,” the group say in a statement.
“We call on brands and retailers to collectively pledge to implement the internationally recognized core labor standards of the International Labor Organization. “Further, we expect companies to acknowledge their human rights responsibilities as delineated in the ‘protect, respect and remedy’ framework of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights [Ruggie Principles].“As an immediate response, the investors are appealing to the companies to:
- Join the Accord on Fire and Building Safety
- Commit to strengthening local trade unions and a living wage for all workers
- Disclose all their suppliers, and their health and safety programs
- Ensure that appropriate grievance mechanisms, including compensation, are in place.
The statement has been coordinated by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and sustainable funds houses Boston Common Asset Management, Domini Social Investments and Trillium Asset Management.
Signatories to the statement include numerous faith investors and institutions such as the Strathclyde Pension Fund, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, Cooperative Asset Management, ASN Bank, SNS Asset Management, Aviva Investors and Bank Sarasin.
Other backers also include groups such as Switzerland’s Canada’s Bâtirente, the US SIF as well as sustainable fund houses Green Century, Walden, Wespath, Zevin, Pax World and Mercy Investment Services. Link to investor statement