With little more than two months until the new Accord on Fire and Building Safety is set to enter into effect in Bangladesh, global unions IndustriALL and UNI have announced that more than 100 brands have joined the mission.
Instituted following the deadly Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, the initial Accord was formed to improve garment industry safety standards. That agreement claims to have conducted inspections on more than 1,800 factories, remediated 83 percent of the issues found there and seen 500 factories through 90 percent or more of their necessary fixes. With the end of the Accord on the horizon, it was unknown what would become of its efforts going forward.
“The brands that have signed the 2018 Transition Accord are showing a commitment to transparency and to the safety of Bangladeshi workers,” said Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. “The Accord’s legally-binding framework is the only credible way to guarantee that life-threatening fire and structural hazards are remediated in a timely manner in ready-made garment and textile factories.”
Since the new Accord was announced in June, more than 101 brands have signed on, including Adidas, Benetton, Carrefour, H&M, New Look, Esprit, Hugo Boss, Inditex, Tesco and John Lewis. With these brands on board, the agreement covers more than 1,200 factories and at least 2 million workers.
“We were confident that the vast majority of 2013 signatories would sign the 2018 Transition Accord and now that we have broken 100 signatories, we are almost there,” said Christy Hoffman, deputy general scretary of UNI Global Union. “We’ve made improvements to the industry and turning away now simply doesn’t make sense. It is also important to make these advancements in worker safety sustainable through functioning Health and Safety Committees and the Transition Accord will put a priority on this work.”
Just last month, an unnamed apparel brand was ordered to pay a $2.3 million settlement to mitigate safety hazards in factories. The funds will be used to improve working conditions in 150 factories and to support IndustriALL and UNI Global’s workers’ fund.
“The recent legal victory on behalf of Bangladeshi garment workers shows the power of the Accord in action. The Accord is a legally binding commitment to make factories safe, and it has the power to fundamentally change the way garments and textiles are produced,” said Jenny Holdcroft, IndustriALL assistant general secretary.