'Don't punish workers by leaving Bangladesh,' buyers told

19 June 2013
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19 June 2013 | Marino Donati

Global clothing firms should lobby governments to improve factory safety in problem countries rather than move manufacturing elsewhere, an anti-corruption group has said.

Recent events such as the collapse of Bangladeshi garment factory in April that killed more than 1,000 workers, has sparked fears that global corporations may move manufacturing, decimating the economy of countries that rely heavily on clothing exports. Eighty per cent of Bangladesh's exports come from the garment industry.

The Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia branches of Transparency International said media reports that some companies are turning away from Bangladesh send the wrong signal about their commitment to worker's rights and fighting corruption. A joint statement said large clothing companies should instead push governments to stamp out corruption with legal reforms and invest more resources into safety inspections.

“Companies leaving in the face of such tragedies, or to avoid greater regulation, will only be punishing the victims of corruption rather than the perpetrators,” said Iftekhar Zaman, head of Transparency International Bangladesh. “The alternative to dumping business in Bangladesh is to work with the government on ensuring factories apply safety rules.”

Transparency International works with partners in government, business and civil society to put measures in place to tackle corruption. It said corruption is one of the factors contributing to disasters, with negligence, lack of resources, bribes and collusion between factory owners allowing facilities to continue to operate even when dangers are identified.

It added that nine of the 10 biggest clothing exporters score less than 50 out of 100 in its index of perceived corruption where 0 suggests extreme corruption and 100 is very clean.

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