STOCKHOLM/MADRID: The world's two largest fashion retailers, H&M and Zara, are among the brands that have moved to address worker safety and reputational issues in the wake of a factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,120 people.
Both organisations have given their backing to an agreement on fire and building safety in the country, which is aimed at preventing a repeat of the recent disaster.
Other brands that have been involved in the talks include Gap, the fashion chain, PVH Group, owner of the Calvin Klein brand, Walmart, the US retailer and Tchibo, a German firm, according to Reuters
The IndustriALL Global Union, which has been pushing brands to agree to the deal, is hoping several more will sign up going forward. The accord is expected to lead to stronger workers' rights and see brands making a financial commitment relative to the size of their business in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's government has already acceded to the demands of campaigners
by raising the minimum wage and allowing garment workers to form unions without permission from factory owners.
Primark and Bonmarche, two UK retailers which were supplied by the New Wave clothing factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, have promised to pay compensation to the families of the dead.
Elsewhere, adidas, the German sports goods company, has come under fire for an initiative that encourages workers in the factories of its Asian suppliers to send an anonymous text message
to complain about working conditions or breaches of their rights.
Critics said the company was diverting attention from real problems and should focus on improving production standards, but adidas denied it was a marketing stunt.
A spokeswoman pointed out that big problems emerge when there's a lack of communication. "We were of the view that it's important to change that," she said.
Data sourced from Reuters, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Deutsche Welle; additional content by Warc staff