7 May 2013 — Fashion stories H&M and The Gap are being petitioned to sign an enforceable Bangladesh fire and building safety agreement, “or risk fatal damage to your brand image”.

The call, by Avaaz.com, comes after a recent fire at Rana Plaza, an eight-storey building that housed at least five garment factories, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

It claimed the lives of 112 women workers.

The petition asks that the companies “must commit to pay for routine, independent inspections and safety upgrades for your supplier factories”.

“Your companies and other multinationals profit from cheap labour, and can do much more to reduce the dangers of the places where your products are made.”

Avaaz.com says hundreds of Bangladeshi women have been burned or crushed to death while making “our” clothes.

“In days, major fashion companies could sign an agreement that will either be a strong safety code or a weak PR ploy. If 1 million of us get the chief executive officers of H&M and GAP to back a life-saving code, the rest will follow.

“Big fashion brands source from hundreds of factories in Bangladesh. Two brands, including Calvin Klein, have signed a very strong building and fire safety pact.

“Others, led by Wal-Mart, have been trying to wriggle out of signing by creating a weak alternative that was pure PR. But the latest disaster has triggered crisis meetings and massive pressure to sign the strong version that can save lives.

“Negotiations end in days. H&M and GAP are most likely to flip first to support a strong agreement, and the best way to press them is to go after their CEOs.

“They’ll know that their own and their companies’ reputations are on the line.”

The petition is available here.