The Bangladesh government released results of its investigation into the factory collapse that killed 1,127 and concluded that “extremely” poor quality materials and violations of regulations were to blame, the Associated Press reports:
The report found that building owner Sohel Rana had permission to build a six-story structure and added two floors illegally so he could rent them out to garment factories. Past statements from authorities said the owner had permission for a five-story structure and added three floors illegally.
The report also said the building was not built for industrial use and the weight of the heavy garment factory machinery and their vibrations contributed to the building collapse. Those factors had previously been cited.
The ground on which the building was built was not fit for a multi-story building, the report said.
The investigation committee has recommended that Rana and the owners of the factories be sentenced to life in jail if they are found guilty.
There are more signs of shoddy construction in other Bangladesh factories, though. Cracks were spotted on the walls of another factory in Gazipur, near Dhaka, that is still operating and making clothing, including Wrangler shirts, for North Carolina-based Liz Apparels. Walmart has stopped using the factory because it is on the company’s “red” list after its own audit found cracks. Inspectors for Inditex, owner of Zara, also saw cracks, and Reuters Television found a vertical crack running up a wall that appeared to have been recently plastered over.
Even in the face of these concerns, some major American companies have continued their opposition to signing a broad safety agreement that would upgrade Bangladesh facilities and was signed by six large European retailers. When some shareholders questioned Gap’s refusal at its recent annual meeting, CEO Glenn Murphy voiced his concerns: “In the United States, there’s maybe a bigger legal risk than there is in Europe.” While the company is still in support of a global agreement in theory, the current one does not “make sense” for the company, he said.
Walmart and Target have also declined to sign the agreement, citing similar concerns. American companies Abercrombie & Fitch and PVH, owner of Calvin Klein, Izod, and Tommy Hilfiger have signed on.
While cost has also been raised as a concern for both companies and consumers, upgrades to Bangladesh’s factories could cost consumers as little as 10 cents per garment if all of the costs were passed on.