24.04.2014

Anniversary of the tragedy in Bangladesh

On 24 April, a year ago today, the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed. There is no doubt that this was one of the greatest tragedies in the clothing industry in recent times. Within a few months of that day, LPP prepared and implemented a series of actions and initiatives aimed at supporting the families of the victims and survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh.   We believe that, owing to the actions we have since undertaken to improve the safety and working conditions, a similar tragedy to the one which took place in the Rana Plaza building will never happen again.   The ACCORD agreement In October 2013, LPP – as the only Polish company to do so – signed an agreement called the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, whose objective is to improve the safety at garment factories in Bangladesh. The tragedy in Bangladesh both moved and stunned us, and we did not want to act hastily or rashly. To be able to assume with full awareness the long-term commitments in supporting the Rana Plaza victims, we needed time to thoroughly analyse the situation. As a result, we devised a comprehensive action plan aimed both at supporting the victims financially and to solidify our internal structures auditing the working conditions in the factories we cooperate with.   The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is a pioneering initiative joined by 150 clothing companies, and by local and international NGOs. As signatories of the agreement, we have committed ourselves to pay member contributions that will be used to carry out inspection and training activities at the factories. What is more, during the 5-year period of the agreement, a number of activities related to independent auditing and modernisation of the factories will be introduced. Our company does not have its own production facilities. We have our clothes made at factories, the services of which are also used by other global clothing corporations, so we consider it essential that corrective actions are taken by the entire industry, and not only by the individual companies.   Voluntary donation Being able to provide support for the victims was one of the key steps we made as a company. In February 2014, LPP was one of the first companies to make a voluntary donation to the Rana Plaza Multi-Stakeholder Coordination Committee created on the joint initiative of representatives of the government, clothing industry, trade unions and NGOs. In accordance with the Coordination Committee’s underlying principle, all contributions made by donors for Rana Plaza victims will be transferred to them from a dedicated Trust Fund created in January 2014. About 10 million USD has been collected for this purpose to date. The collected money will be used solely for payments to the Rana Plaza victims and their families.   Closer control over the supply chain As it is crucial to undertake activities that will improve the safety at the factories, we have implemented essential system activities with the aim of monitoring our suppliers more effectively. We are expanding and reorganising our auditing structures, and we are also recruiting the personnel for the office we are setting up in Bangladesh. These will be responsible for supervising the safety of production at the factories we cooperate with in that market. We have been running a similar office for a dozen or so years in Shanghai. It employs over 100 people responsible for sourcing, facilitating all production stages, and quality control. Another important role of the office is to verify our suppliers’ compliance with the Code of Conduct on safety, and with applicable policies and working conditions.   The factories are audited in terms of their adherence to the Code of Conduct, especially in the area of safety, and to policies and conditions of work. The same system will be in operation in LPP’s considerable office in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Verifying and evaluating of the working conditions in Asia will also be the responsibility of a considerable auditing team we are currently forming in Gdańsk. Apart from the activities to do with reorganisation of our structures, we also decided to combine our orders for the production facilities into greater packages, allowing us to improve control over our suppliers despite the increased order volumes. We believe that these activities will make it possible for us to create a solid and safe supplier base in terms of both production and business relationships.   Transparency and corporate social responsibility Corporate social responsibility should be an important element of the operation of any company, regardless of its size, origin or area of business activity. LPP has over the last 10 years been very actively involved in social activities for the community in Gdańsk, including support for the Family Gdańsk Foundation (Fundacja Rodzinny Gdańsk), making appropriate donations in kind to organisations, and successfully developing our corporate programme. We want to become even more engaged in these types of activities by expanding the area of our support. However, we are well aware that corporate social responsibility is much more than this, and that is why we are currently preparing a long-term CSR policy that will include the issues concerning the supply chain and the environment. The policy will also define the guidelines for active and transparent communication.