Audits of two factories in the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, carried out against the BSCI code of conduct completely failed to identify the illegal construction of the building that led to the loss of at least 1131 lives on April 24th 2013.
Regardless of whether the two BSCI registered factories in Rana Plaza, New Waves Style and Phantom Apparels, were active suppliers to BSCI brands at the time of the collapse, by approving these factories, BSCI, and the system it oversees, provided a misleading assurance to buyers, the government, workers and consumers that this factory met adequate standards. It therefore needs to be actively involved in providing redress for those affected and take steps to prevent future disasters.
Compensating victims and their families is at the heart of redress following the Rana Plaza building collapse. It is therefore the responsibility of all brands, auditing companies and business-driven initiatives involved in Rana Plaza to contribute to compensation efforts.
“BSCI must actively engage with the compensation process and ensure that its member brands that were buyers in Rana Plaza do the same”, says Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign.
BSCI has been fully aware of the risk of factory collapse in Savar since 2005 when 64 workers were killed in the Spectrum building collapse. Following the disaster, BSCI issued a statement saying “BSCI members have increased their efforts to improve the situation” in relation to building safety in Bangladesh. The organisation and its members’ efforts have been clearly inadequate and eight years on in a statement following the Rana Plaza collapse, BSCI says that it is still working “to find a solution which prevents such tragedies from happening again”, without giving any indication that it has learnt from the two tragedies and taken meaningful steps to address building safety.
“The very integrity of the BSCI system is in question. By their own admission, BSCI audits do not cover building safety rendering them useless. Without building safety there is no worker safety”, says Zeldenrust. “Instead of requesting all their member companies to immediately sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord, they have adapted their audit questionnaire to include building safety. This is in no way sufficient to ensure factory buildings are safe and renders BSCI negligent in their efforts to improve working conditions for garment workers”.
- Clean Clothes Campaign and SOMO published Fatal Fashion in March 2013, in which they highlight the responsibilities for governments, brands, audit firms and certification bodies, and employers with respect to preventing fatal accidents in garment factories and to providing remedy to the victims.
- BSCI is a business driven initiative which provides a list of BSCI approved factories to members through a centralized database. BSCI audits are based on the SA8000 certification standards. In Fatal Fashion (page 67), CCC provides the following recommendations to audit firms and certification bodies, that are relevant for BSCI:
- Notify the buyer, the government, relevant business associations and worker representatives when factory audits identify health and safety hazards, and publicly disclose the results of such audits.
- When having failed to do the above, provide redress to affected workers and families of affected workers. The same responsibility applies in situations where auditing firms or certification bodies have failed to detect safety hazards in the course of an audit or certification process. In concrete terms this includes paying compensation to the families of workers who died in the fire [or other fatal incident] and to injured workers.
- Provide full transparency and disclosure of audit reports (…) to contribute to effective remedy for the families of the victims and the survivors. (…)
- Fundamentally alter their reliance on accredited quality control firms, commonly paid by the factory owner, who often lack safety expertise and are not trusted by workers and trade unions, rendering their worker interviews implausible.
- Publish audit methodologies and reports of the factories inspected, and actively solicit engagement with worker representatives, trade unions and other labour rights organisations to ensure audits are part of a broader and on-going monitoring process.
- BSCI Press Release10.04.2006, published for the anniversary of the Spectrum tragedy: European Commerce pushes for improvement of social standards in Bangladesh
- BSCI statement http://bsci-intl.org/news-events/statement-rana-plaza-building-collapse-bangladesh