Procedure : 2012/2908(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0022/2013

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 16/01/2013 - 14
CRE 16/01/2013 - 14

Votes :

PV 17/01/2013 - 12.6
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0004/2013

to wind up the debate on statements by the Council and the Commission

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the victims of fires recently in textile factories, notably in Bangladesh (2012/2908(RSP))

Willy Meyer, Paul Murphy, Marie-Christine Vergiat on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

European Parliament resolution on the victims of fires recently in textile factories, notably in Bangladesh (2012/2908(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous reports on corporate social responsibility,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 16 December 1966 and which entered into force on 3 January 1976 (ratified by Bangladesh on 5 October 1998),

–   having regard to key International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, including Convention No 138 concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, Convention No 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, Convention No 184 concerning Safety and Health in Agriculture and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention No 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, Convention No 98 concerning the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, Convention No 141 concerning Rural Workers’ Organisations and Convention No 155 concerning Occupational Safety and Health,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Bangladesh is now the world’s second largest clothing exporter, with trade totalling USD 19 billion in 2011; whereas it is also, after China and Vietnam, the EU’s third largest supplier of textile-clothing; whereas this sector accounts for 13 % of Bangladesh’s GDP and 80 % of its exports;

B.  whereas according to Transparency International, Bangladesh is one of the most corrupt countries in the world (ranked at 134 out of 178 countries in 2010);

C. whereas 40 % of Bangladeshis live below the poverty line (less than USD 1.25 per day), relegating it to 146th position among the 182  countries in the Human Development Index (HDI); whereas this extreme situation has led to widespread protests, including hunger riots in 2008;

D. whereas textile workers (nearly 40 % of the industrial labour force: three million workers, three quarters of them women) regularly stage protests against their poor working conditions and the discrepancy between their salaries and the profits amassed by business owners in the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA);

E.  whereas these protests have been systematically repressed by the armed forces and have resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injured;

F.  whereas the country ratified the 1948 Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise in 1967; whereas however only a very few workers’ organisations have been given official accreditation and many of them are constantly harassed by the authorities;

G. whereas on 24 November 2012 more than 1 000 employees of Tazreen Fashions, which was working for western firms such as C&A (Dutch), Carrefour (French), Ikea (Swedish) and Walmart (USA), were trapped by flames in a fire at its factory on the outskirts of Dhaka; whereas 110 workers died and another hundred or so were injured;

I.   whereas another fire broke out on 26 November 2012 in a garment factory in Dhaka; whereas while there were no casualties in this fire, it occurred in a 12‑storey building housing four textile firms;

J.   whereas NGOs report that around 700 garment workers have died in fires in Bangladesh since 2006;

K. whereas on 11 September 2012 a fire ravaged a textile factory in Karachi, a megalopolis in southern Pakistan, killing more than 310 people; whereas just a few hours before this, a similar fire in a shoe factory in Lahore, the country’s second city, killed 21 people;

L.  whereas although some western businesses claim to employ ‘codes of good conduct’, working conditions – particularly in regard to working hours, salaries, child labour and worker safety – are still deplorable; whereas every year several factories housed in run-down, over-crowded buildings are engulfed in flames;

M. whereas initial reports suggest these fires were caused by safety aspects being neglected, resulting in an electrical short-circuit which started the fire;

N. whereas the environmental footprint of cotton is multiplied by excessive use of pesticides, accounting for 10% of world consumption, insecticides, accounting for 25% of world consumption, and water, leading to soil degradation and contamination as well as to loss of biodiversity;

1.  Extends its condolences to the families of the victims; considers that these tragedies once more highlight the deplorable working conditions in firms in Bangladesh and Pakistanproducing textiles for export;

2.  Backs the call by several NGOs and workers organisations for an independent inquiry to be held to establish where liability lies and apply the necessary penalties; considers that the victims’ families ought to receive fair compensation, that the inquiry’s reports ought to be made public and its conclusions implemented so as to prevent another such tragedy occurring;

3.  Makes the point that complaints have been made many times about the dangerous working conditions in these businesses and the fire risk but the authorities and multinational firms concerned have not paid any real attention;

4.  Calls on the Bangladeshi Government and the businesses concerned to carry out as quickly as possible mandatory repairs and renovation work to correct all the hazards identified; demands that the various multinationals stop working with suppliers which refuse to carry out repairs necessary to ensure the complete and utter safety of their workforce;

5.  Calls on the Bangladeshi Government to ensure the safety of workers by establishing an efficient et impartial labour inspection system for industrial buildings, to equip this with the resources it needs to accomplish its task, to set up safety committees run by the workforce and to guarantee freedom of association and the right to form trade unions and represent the workforce in collective bargaining, in accordance with the ILO international conventions ratified by Bangladesh;

6.  Supports the protests by workers employed in these businesses and particularly the protests following the most recent fires, and emphasises that their demands for better working conditions, higher salaries and better protection should be regarded as fundamental rights;

7.  Condemns the failure by EU businesses, despite the ‘codes of good conduct’ they have adopted, to uphold workers’ rights; urges the relevant authorities in the EU and in Member States to refer to existing inquiries and to conduct in collaboration with relevant international organisations an impartial inquiry into these practices in order to take the steps needed to be sure that these businesses are not guilty of human rights violations in countries outside the EU; highlights the need for a legally binding and hence enforceable system concerning corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a step towards ending this brazen exploitation;

8.  Urges all parties in the cotton sector to reduce pollution of the environment, including its water footprint, and the use of pesticides and insecticides, to an absolute minimum; stresses that these non-sustainable means of production undermine the future of cotton production;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) and the Bangladeshi Government.


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