Walmart and an industry group representing many U.S. retailers say they will not join an international pact intended to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry – although many global retailers have signed the agreement.

Walmart said it is not in a position to sign the IndustriALL pact, a five-year, legally binding contract that requires participating companies to help pay for safety improvements in factory buildings in Bangladesh.

 “While we agree with much of the proposal, the IndustriALL plan also introduces requirements, including governance and dispute resolution mechanisms, on supply chain matters that are appropriately left to retailers, suppliers and government, and are unnecessary to achieve fire and safety goals,” according to a statement released by the company.

Walmart announced plans to conduct in-depth safety inspections at 100 percent of the factories in Bangladesh that produce goods for the retailer, require remediation as necessary, and increase transparency by making the results available to the public. 

“Walmart believes its safety plan meets or exceeds the IndustriALL proposal, and will get results more quickly.”

However, two U.S. companies did sign the pact: PVH Corp. -- the New York-based parent company of Tommy Hilfiger -- and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Companies based in other countries also signed, including Swedish retailer H&M and French retailer Carrefour.

At its current participation level, the contract will affect approximately one-fifth of the 5,000 garment factories in Bangladesh.

The National Retail Federation announced that it has formed its own North American Bangladesh Worker Safety Working Group, a collaboration of five U.S. and Canadian apparel and retail trade associations.
The group’s "Safer Factories Initiative" includes strategic goals for moving forward with what it calls “meaningful improvements to worker safety in Bangladesh.”