Chelis H&M

Chelis López, Global Exchange Digital Campaiger, at H&M Global Day of Action protest

On May 3rd, as part of an international day of action, Global Exchange rallied outside of H&M’s flagship San Francisco store to insist that cheap fashion shouldn’t cost lives!

While H&M shareholders met in Sweden, we passed out flyers to tourists and office workers alike – calling for safety first.  “Did you know that many H&M factories still don’t have fire exits?” we asked astonished passersby. “Quick, how do you say, ‘fire exit’ in French? in German?” Jenny asked, as she spoke to tourists from the Congo and Germany.   The cable car clanged its bell in solidarity, as it stopped in front of the H&M store and Maya called out – “All we are asking for is safety first!”

Three years ago after fire disasters and the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, major garment companies signed the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Researchers took a close look at compliance and here’s what they found:

  • 70% haven’t installed all required fire doors, which means they still don’t have adequate fire exits.
  • 17% still have sliding doors or collapsible gates in place that could impede workers’ ability to exit during a fire.
  • On average, each of these factories still needs to make 28 safety repairs or renovations
  • In over 200 H&M supplier factories, workers are at risk of injury or death should a factory fire occur

H&M is the largest buyer of clothing from Bangladesh, sourcing from 255 factories. All told, hundreds of thousands of workers in Bangladesh make H&M clothing, and most of them are still working in unsafe buildings — even though H&M was the first company to sign the Accord three years ago, committing itself to make the factories safe.

Before there is another major factory fire, it is imperative that H&M put an end to the safety delays.

Global Exchange staff and volunteers protest outside of H&M's San Fransisco store.

Global Exchange staff and volunteers protest outside of H&M’s San Fransisco store.

Here’s how you can help the international movement for safe factories: 

  1. If there’s an H&M near you: Deliver a letter to the store manager.
  2. Circulate the petition to H&M
  3. Show your solidarity on social media
    • Sample tweets:
      • I stand with garment workers in Bangladesh. Safe jobs now! #hmbrokenpromises $HMB
      • 3 years is too long! Time for H&M to keep safety promises & end the delays. Act now: #hmnbrokenpromises $HMB
      • 70% of H&M’s strategic supplies still lack required fire doors @hm: No more delays. #hmnbrokenpromises $HMB
      • Check out the facebook and twitter pages for more content to share

You can be part of ensuring that cheap clothes don’t cost lives!