For many years, METRO GROUP has been committed to the promotion of humane working conditions in its supplier factories and is implementing numerous measures to achieve this purpose. Accordingly, the Düsseldorf-based trade and retailing group is welcoming any further concrete initiative to this end. Based on this policy, METRO GROUP also wants to contribute to the latest initiative launched by several organisations to enhance improved fire protection and building safety in Bangladesh's textile industry by providing both factual expertise and financial support; the resources required for this purpose have been earmarked. "All stakeholders should be interested in promptly improving the working conditions and social standards in Bangladesh. According to our relevant experience this will only succeed if viable practical measures are convened which can actually be implemented", said Jürgen Matern, head of sustainability at METRO GROUP. "That is why for the latest fire protection initiative we need a clear concept and we would like to contribute our experience in this field and join in actively developing the concept. As soon as a practicable action plan is available, METRO GROUP will join."
METRO GROUP has perceived the disasters having occurred in textile factories in Bangladesh with great concern. Although there were no direct business relations with any of the factories afflicted, the company took the incidents of the past months as an occasion already at the end of 2012 in order to review once again and adapt its guidelines and management systems, which have been in place for many years, with a view to safeguarding humane working conditions in the supply chain. The METRO GROUP buying division MGB Hong Kong, for example, performed fire protection trainings in February 2013 in cooperation with the technical inspection agency TÜV Rheinland, for suppliers in Bangladesh.
In Asia, METRO GROUP collaborates with around 1200 factories; most of these factories (more than 900) are located in China for many years. As far as textile production in Bangladesh is concerned, METRO GROUP has always pursued the policy of cooperating only very selectively with factories because in many cases the working conditions prevailing there are not coming up to the company’s high standards. Against this backdrop, MGB Hongkong is currently working with 42 factories in Bangladesh. In the capital, Dhaka, METRO GROUP's buying division maintains its own office with 25 employees, six of them working as quality inspectors visiting regularly our producers and their factories. "In Bangladesh, all 42 factories with which we cooperate have successfully passed the audit process of the Business Social Compliance Initiative", says Matern.
In all markets in which METRO GROUP operates in, the company has been committed to the promotion of fair working conditions and the compliance with social standards. Therefore, METRO GROUP was one of the founding members of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) more than 10 years ago, and helped develop this initiative into one of the largest and most efficient systems for the implementation of safe and decent working conditions in emerging and developing countries. BSCI is pursuing an international and, first and foremost, a holistic social approach. A globally harmonised code of conduct and the appropriate controlling system are mandatory for the suppliers of the BSCI members. The fire protection issue is also one aspect of the BSCI requirements. These include detailed fire prevention and protection precautions and management systems such as emergency exits, escape routes, fire extinguishers as well as fire drills.