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FIRE SAFETY REFORMS: A handful of people from the International Labor Rights Forum distributed fliers Sunday afternoon in front of Lincoln Center prior to Trina Turk’s fashion show, protesting Gap’s fire safety program. In the wake of recent factory fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan that have killed hundreds of apparel workers, ILRF is calling for apparel companies to share their knowledge about workplace hazards openly and pay sufficient prices to factories for necessary building repairs. “We’re asking Trina Turk to do the right thing,” said Liana Foxvog, director of organizing for the ILRF. She explained that Turk did a line last year for Banana Republic “and we believe she has the ear of the Gap.”
According to ILRF, Gap’s monitors repeatedly gave a clean bill of health to That’s It Sportswear, the Bangladesh factory that burned in December 2010, killing 29 workers, many leaping to their deaths from the upper floors of the building because locked stairway doors prevented their escape.
ILRF is calling on Gap to adopt a fire safety program which would help save workers’ lives in Bangladesh. The organization planned to go to the Gap store Sunday to deliver a message to the store manager.
“Gap is aware of the problem. They announced a new program for fire safety, but it’s a repeat of a safety approach that’s led to unsafe conditions and death trap conditions,” she said. Foxvog plans to embark on a speaking tour with workers from Bangladesh and will also travel to Gap headquarters to deliver their message at the end of this month. ILRF also plans to visit Wal-Mart and Disney headquarters. “The most recent factory fire was a supplier of Wal-Mart and Disney clothing. What we want is for Gap to adopt the same solution that Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein have signed onto, and that’s the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.” She said it involves independent inspections of factories; mandatory repairs and innovations, and worker and union involvement in program oversight and implementation. “All of these components are missing from the program that Gap recently announced,” she said. Gap couldn’t be reached at press time Sunday.