Dem: Clothiers will have ‘blood on their labels’ if they resist Bangladesh reforms

A senior Democratic lawmaker is pressing the fashion industry to accept binding building safety standards at Bangladeshi garment factories following the building collapse there that killed more than 1,000 workers.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, said Wal-Mart, GAP and other clothiers should sign onto enforceable fire and safety agreements to improve working conditions in the South Asian country.

“As so often happens after a tragedy, those responsible hope that time passes and people’s memories fade,” Miller said in a statement issued Friday. “But the fashion brands and retailers need to know that we are not going away. ... If they fail to sign an enforceable agreement, they are declaring that they accept blood on their labels.”

A woman was found alive in the rubble near Dhaka on Friday, 17 days after the building collapsed. Her rescue comes as the death toll rose above 1,000 in what is believed to be the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry.

Miller singled out additional companies, including J.C., Penny Benetton and The Children’s Place, calling upon them to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.

The firms “have a moral responsibility to end business-as-usual for their supplier factories in Bangladesh,” he said.

Along with Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich), Miller also urged the Obama administration to step in and coordinate action to improve workers’ rights and working conditions in Bangladesh.