Bangladesh Accord



 

Last updated: August 2017

 

 

The Bangladesh Accord

 

 

It has been four years since the eight-story Rana Plaza building outside Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people and injuring thousands of others. At the time, the building housed five garment factories that manufactured goods for major retail companies in Europe and North America.

 

Image: Rana Plaza

 

Within weeks of the collapse, many brands had signed up to the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (the Accord) – a legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to improve factory safety.

 

 

2nd Accord

 

On 29th June 2017, a 2nd version of the Accord was agreed. This will enter into effect after the current Accord expires in May 2018.

The renewed agreement builds on the fundamental elements that have made the Accord successful including: independent factory inspections, commitment to transparency, safety training and a credible complaints mechanism.

In addition to the original agreement, there are now extra commitments to ensure that workers’ rights to freedom of association are respected in regard to safety.

 

 

Continued support

 

In addition to companies and unions, the Accord includes, as ‘Witness Signatories’, four non-governmental labour rights organisations: the Clean Clothes Campaign, the International Labour Rights Forum, the Maquila Solidarity Network and the Worker Rights Consortium.

 

Image: Rana Plaza


Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign said:

“The renewal of the Bangladesh Accord ensures the continuation of the most effective program to ensure the safety of factory buildings in the contemporary era of global garment production. The Accord has generated more than 100,000 documented safety improvements in more than 1,500 apparel factories, employing more than 2.5 million garment workers.”


Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium:

“The Accord is the antidote to the voluntary industry auditing schemes that failed miserably to protect workers in the years leading up to the catastrophic Rana Plaza collapse”.

“The Accord model replaces voluntary promises with enforceable commitments, ensures severe economic consequences for suppliers that refuse to operate safely, and requires brands to make sure their suppliers can afford needed renovations. The renewal of the Accord is a testament to the effectiveness of this model.”

 

So far, Primark, H&M and Inditex have signed the 2nd agreement and all brands and retailers sourcing from Bangladesh are being urged to sign the new agreement.

 

Judy Gearhart, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum said:

“We believe that every genuinely responsible company will do so.”

 

 

Inspections reveal outstanding concerns

 

Under the terms of the Accord, company signatories commit to disclosing their supplier factories for inspections.

As of March 2017, the Accord reported that 77% of the safety hazards identified in initial inspections were reported or verified as having been fixed.

Human Rights Watch states that the agreement has helped to establish “a credible system of inspecting factories and developing corrective measures to address fire and building safety concerns”.

However, the Accord’s progress report acknowledges that many factories have substantial work to do to be completely safe. It notes “major life-threatening safety concerns remain outstanding in too many factories and need to be fixed urgently.


These include:

  • inadequately protected fire exits
  • inadequate fire alarm and fire protection systems
  • outstanding structural retrofitting work.”

 

 

Limits of Accord exposed

 

In a stark reminder of the precarious working conditions many workers face, ten garment workers were killed and over 40 people injured when a factory boiler exploded on the 4th July 2017.

The factory had been inspected by the Accord in October 2016. However, as Clean Clothes Campaign points out, the inspections do not cover boilers themselves to detect explosion risk.

It said “the Accord must address other safety hazards that have caused accidents, injury and death in garment factories, but which are outside the scope of the Accord program. This includes defects in factory generators, gas lines and freight elevators.”

Clean Clothes Campaign is calling for the Accord Steering Committee to extend the Accord to include boilers without delay and “a program to inspect all boilers in factories producing for Accord signatory brands and retailers should be swiftly launched.”

 

Brands who are signatories to the Accord and are included in the clothing guides:

Arcadia Group, Debenhams, FatFace, Finisterre, H&M*, Hugo Boss, Matalan, New Look, Next, Primark*, PVH, Uniqlo and Zara (Inditex)*.

 

*Companies which have signed the 2nd Accord

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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