Trade group slams safety pact for Bangladesh

NEW YORK — The largest US retail-industry group on Wednesday criticized an international pact aimed at improving factory conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry, saying it was a ‘‘one-size-fits-all’’ approach promoted by special interests.

The National Retail Federation’s statement came as more global retailers signed on to the pact backed by about 30 brands including Swedish retailer H&M and French retailer Carrefour. The five-year, legally binding contract requires them to help pay for fire safety and building improvements in Bangladesh.

Based on the number of companies participating, the plan will now cover more than 1,000 of the 5,000 garment factories in Bangladesh, according to IndustriALL Global Union, a Geneva based-labor union that was involved in the negotiations.


IndustriALL had set a deadline of 6 p.m. EDT Wednesday for companies to sign the pact.

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As of late Wednesday, only two US companies have signed: PVH Corp. and Abercrombie & Fitch.

The retail federation said that it didn’t support the agreement because it leaves retailers open to legal action and seeks major funding by private businesses without providing accountability for how the money is spent.

The trade group, along with a coalition of North American industry associations including the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the American Apparel & Footwear Association, jointly came out with a proposal Wednesday to improve conditions at apparel factories in Bangladesh. But few details were offered.