Labour conditions and health and safety standards following the recent factory fires and building collapse in Bangladesh:
- extracts from the debate
EPRef93840 // European Parliament , Strasbourg, EP Plenary session - Hemicycle //
Première transmission: 23/05/2013
European Parliament , Strasbourg
Fin de production: 23/05/2013
MEPs held a debate regarding the labour conditions in Bangladesh, following the recent fire and the collapse of a building at factories producing clothing chiefly for European and American brands. They are pressing the Commission for concrete action to improve working conditions in the area. MEPs have already called for thorough investigations and compliance with health and safety legislation in a resolution adopted earlier this year, pointing to the deadly collusion between local safety inspectors and factory owners. The resolution also called for the fulfilment by all manufacturers with health and safety legislation and the establishment of an effective and independent system of labour inspections and inspections of industrial buildings.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exteriror of the European Parliament, Strasbourg
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Karel DE GUCHT, European Commission, "We have to work with the government of Bangladesh, that's our partner, but work with also needs to have a goal and the goal should be that the working conditions get better in Bangladesh."
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Karel DE GUCHT, European Commission, "If things do not go better I will ask to launch an investigation, I want to be very clear on that. It is a process, it cannot change from today to tomorrow, but the process should also be productive. Secondly, I believe very strongly that European companies, the big clients of the garments and apparel industry in Bangladesh have a responsibility. They need to take responsibility for their supply chain."
SOUNDBITE (English) by Karel DE GUCHT, European Commission; "I want concrete undertakings of those companies. They have already signed a kind of a charter, but we have to be very concrete in this and they can take responsibility for their supply chains. Lastly, this is not about trade, you know, because trade should respect a number of elementary rules. Of course, trade is important for Bangladesh. It has made that billions of people and also millions of women have found a job, an occupation. But this is about the respect of fundamental human rights; it's about the respect of human dignity."
||SOUNDBITE (German) by Daniel CASPARY, (EPP, DE),"The question is are the standards firstly to blame or is it the legal situation in Bangladesh? In most of these events I think the question is more a matter of criminal exploitation, if you look at the buildings in which these factories were contained, many of them are not properly build. In other words, existing law was not adhered to. "
||SOUNDBITE (German) by Daniel CASPARY, (EPP, DE), "But we don't need any neo-colonialism towards Bangladesh either. As Commissioner De Gucht has said, what we need is to make full offers of help."
||SOUNDBITE (French) by Véronique DE KEYSER (S&D, BE),"We are all here wearing blood garments, as it is in the diamond sector. Look at these big store chains like H&M, Zara, and others that are exploiting people in Bangladesh which is the second-biggest textiles exporters after China in the world."
||SOUNDBITE (French) by Véronique DE KEYSER (S&D, BE),"You've said, Commissioner, that a number of measures have been taken in terms of legislation, social dialogue and so on and also in terms of an action plan and in particular the agreement on health and safety conditions of work. But I really hope there is going to be follow up now of these measures because we have a responsibility to bear out here. The big multinational companies based in the United States have actually not signed up to these agreement and we've got to bear that in mind when we deal with them in terms of free-trade agreement with the United States."
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Phil BENNION (ALDE, UK),"I also strongly welcome the call on fire and building safety that a number of European retailers have signed. But deeply regret that many retailers have not joined this and particular American retailers and, I've heard, one major German company also hasn't joined this."
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Jean LAMBERT (Greens/EFA, UK),"The call on fire and building safety which brings together the trade unions, the NGOs, governments and the textile retailers is important and I don't think we should step back from naming companies who have yet to sign up. That public pressure is really important and, as my colleague has said, the coordinated holistic response, not a series of parallel measures or inspections, is really needed.
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Charles TANNOCK, (ECR, UK),"A punitive or hectoring approach by the European Union will achieve nothing. Certainly, threatening trades restrictions through the EUGSP, as someone suggested, is an incredibly retrograde step and will further impoverish the millions of people who depend on the garment industry for their livelihoods."
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Charles TANNOCK, (ECR, UK),"The EU retailers and importers must also monitor their supply chains more closely and insure better adherence to ILO and health and safety standards"
||Cuatways (3 SHOTS)