Letters to the Editor

Letter: Brown should sign Bangladesh Safety Accord

By
Friday, February 28, 2014

To the Editor:

 

I am a former child garment worker and executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, one of Bangladesh’s leading labor rights organizations. Last week, I concluded a tour of U.S. college campuses with Reba Sikder, a survivor of last April’s deadly Rana Plaza collapse, asking for solidarity from students to put an end to death-trap factory conditions that have killed over 1,500 Bangladeshi garment workers in the last two years alone.

Together with our allies in the Student Labor Alliance, we’re asking Brown University to join the eight other U.S. universities — including Penn and Cornell — that have required their apparel brands to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord. Unlike so many of the empty promises we’ve seen from corporate social responsibility programs, the accord is a legally binding contract between unions and brands, now signed by over 150 apparel brands, that requires companies to ensure their factories are safe, according to independent inspections by safety experts.

Brown has a global reach through its apparel contracts. Your university’s actions will affect the working conditions of thousands of workers across the garment industry who toil in unsafe factories, making as little as $68 per month. I urge President Christina Paxson to seize this opportunity to be a leader among U.S. universities and make a real difference in the lives of the Bangladeshi garment workers by requiring Brown’s apparel brands to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord.

 

Kalpona Akter

Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity