Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Recent casualties in textile factory fires, notably in Bangladesh

Delivered in Plenary - 16th January 2013

Mr President

We must bear in mind above all that Bangladesh is a relatively stable secular democracy which expends genuine effort to fulfil its human rights obligations, and it depends very much on EU textile trade to create jobs in this country. What happened in the textile factory fire was a grave and genuine human tragedy, but I have received assurances of a thorough investigation by the Bangladeshi authorities and support for their families.

The government would dearly wish to do more to fund factory inspection and social welfare generally, but their resources are extremely constrained. It scarcely needs to be pointed out that Bangladesh is blighted by grinding poverty and frequently struck by natural disasters.

We here in the European Union must offer every assistance possible to the Bangladeshi authorities in their inspection programmes through increased concessions through GSP and aid, and I would certainly welcome CSR voluntary contributions from Western companies to compensate the bereaved families. But I certainly reject the calls to make these compulsory.

Above all, I send my deepest condolences to the families of the bereaved. As a friend of Bangladesh, I can tell you that we can trust the government’s assurances to do everything in its power to avoid further such disasters in the future.