Remake, a global advocacy organization that champions fair pay and climate justice in the clothing industry, is putting major pressure again on Levi’s this week to sign the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. The agreement has ensured safe factories since 2013 and has the support of 176 other brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Uniqlo, Zara, Adidas and H&M.
In addition to offering fire and building safety, the Accord protects workers’ health and well-being.
Working in partnership with the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF), which represents 70,000 women garment workers in Bangladesh; Labour Education Foundation, which includes Pakistani trade union leaders, human rights and women’s rights activists; American trade union Workers United and Netherlands-based Clean Clothes Campaign, which includes 235 worker organizations, Remake is staging a series of organized global protests against the jeans giant and its refusal to sign.
Timed to coordinate with Labor Day and the start of New York Fashion Week Friday, the weeklong actions include delivering a letter about the Accord to Levi’s store managers worldwide as well as picketing outside some of the chain’s locations. It is also sending the message via social media and emails to key Levi’s executives.
Remake previously staged a protest over the same issue outside of Levi’s Times Square flagship in June.
Remake claims that it has sent more than 1,700 emails to Levi’s senior management and posted hundreds of social media mentions about the company’s lack of participation but that Levi’s has refused to engage, saying that its current self-led program for worker and building safety is effective.
“At Levi Strauss & Co. we believe that workers who make our products should work in a safe and healthy environment and be treated with dignity and respect. We have therefore long been invested in strengthening safety policies across our supply chain,” the company said in a Commitment to Building Integrity and Fire Safety statement released in March this year.
“In 1991, we were the first multinational company to introduce a comprehensive supplier code of conduct, our Terms of Engagement, which prioritized worker safety, including annual fire safety assessments. Over the past 30 years we have continued to put our resources behind efforts that will make the biggest difference for the workers in our supply chain, adapting our policies and practices as needed,” it continued.
“Our Terms of Engagement current assessments are based on industry-leading standards and local- country laws, conducted by specialized third-party experts. Following a risk-based approach, we also conduct third-party assessments with direct suppliers operating in Cambodia and Pakistan, with processes in place to take corrective action wherever deemed necessary. In 2022, we’ll complete phase two of our assessment in Pakistan and our third-party grievance reporting hotline will expand to all factories across Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Pakistan,” it added.
Remake, however, counters that recently released videos from Pakistani and Bangladeshi unions show workers sharing the dangers they have encountered making clothes for the company’s Denizen, Dockers and Levi’s brands.
“Levi’s claiming commitment to ethical supply chains without signing onto the Accord is just lip-service in a world where complacence is a matter of life and death,” it said.