The cabinet is to pay particular attention to the textile industry in Bangladesh, following last month’s building collapse in which 1,100 people died.
‘Much of the clothing in Dutch shops is not okay and that has to change,’ foreign trade minister Liliane Ploumen is quoted as saying by Nos television.
In a speech later on Thursday, the minister will say that over the next two years she intends to act as ‘coordinator of all the donor efforts to improve working conditions in the Bangladesh textile sector’.
‘We must not accept that textile workers run enormous risks for our jeans and t-shirts. A low price is not paramount,’ the minister will say. The minister is pleased that companies such as Primark, H&M, C&A, Zara and V&D have promised to do all they can to improve working conditions.
‘But this is not enough,’ she says. ‘The feeling of urgency and sense of speed are not yet strong enough.’
Earlier this week, three large Dutch clothing manufacturers – C&A, G-Star and Cars –signed up to an international agreement to improve safety in Bangladesh factories, RTL news reported.
WE, Vingino, HEMA, Zeeman and V&D told RTL news they are considering signing. Cool Cat and maternity wear shop Prenatal have said they will not add their signatures to the agreement. Other Dutch firms which produce clothing in Bangladesh include Mexx, RTL said.
The agreement commits the signatories to ‘establish a fire and building safety programme in Bangladesh for a period of five years’ and welcomes a ‘strong role for the International Labour Organisation’.