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Calls to extend Bangladesh Accord to protect garment workers

Categories: Articles:Trade Justice (Fair Trade), Articles:Social Justice | Published: 17/05/2017 | Views: 1044

May 2017 is the fourth anniversary of the first major binding supply chain agreement ever implemented in the apparel industry for overseas suppliers: the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Accord secured a contractual commitment by brands to stand by their suppliers and ensure safety repairs would be completed and reported on transparently, among other things, after years of brands’ struggling with a cut-and-run approach to supply chain monitoring.

The ground-breaking agreements achieved in the Accord were borne out of brands, trade unions and human rights NGOs being determined to prevent a repeat of the April 24, 2013 tragedy in Savar, Bangladesh, when the world witnessed the largest factory disaster in the history of the global apparel industry. When the Rana Plaza factories collapsed, workers and advocates watched helplessly from around the world as media reports on the death toll rose from dozens to hundreds and ultimately to over eleven hundred workers lost.

In the intervening years, the Accord has made factories safer for more than two-and-a-half million garment workers. The improvements in structural, fire, and electrical safety accomplished under the Accord have undoubtedly helped avert further deaths and injury in an industry long plagued by grossly unsafe working conditions. In the past four years, no Accord-covered factory with an active or completed action plan has seen a workplace fatality due to fire, electrical or structural hazards.

As originally scheduled, the Accord program is slated to end in twelve months. But much more work is still needed before Bangladesh’s garment industry can be declared safe for workers, and this will not be achieved in just one year. Renewing this agreement is essential to ensure that the gains achieved by the Accord are sustained and that the additional factories that come into the supply chains of Accord brands and retailers are properly inspected, with all hazards corrected and with full public reporting.  Read on

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