Global labour rights groups have recently called on global fashion brands and retailers to sign the new 2018 Accord by October 5, in time for the World Day for Decent Work on October 7.
The 2018 Bangladesh Accord on fire and building safety was announced by the global unions and brand representatives at the OECD in Paris in the month of June this year.
IndustriALL and UNI are the signatories to the new Accord, while four non-governmental organisations including the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium will be witness signatories.
In a press release, the global unions said that the agreement has so far been signed by 30 brands including H&M, Kmart, Target, Primark, Inditex (Zara), C&A, Hugo Boss and PVH, bringing more than 1,160 Bangladesh garment factories into the scope of the new agreement.
Recently, the IndustriALL and UNI have written to existing Accord brands that have not yet signed the new agreement to call on them to sign up, the release said.
The new 2018 Accord goes into effect after the 2013 Accord expires in May 2018, according to the announcement of global unions.
Just after the announcement of the second phase of the Accord, the government of Bangladesh and the country’s apparel exporters opposed the new agreement terming unilateral decision.
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed had expressed his displeasure with the EU and US diplomats over the unilateral decision made by the EU brands and retailers to extend the presence of Accord in Bangladesh by three years.
In an extraordinary general meeting, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has adopted a resolution that RMG factory owners do not want to see Accord and Alliance any more after 2018 and Bangladesh would be capable to oversee the remediation in the sector.
The labour rights groups, however, claimed that many life-threatening safety issues remained uncorrected in Bangladesh’s factories and Accord is only credible option to ensure workplace safety.
‘Our work must continue in Bangladesh because the Accord is still the only credible option to ensure structural integrity and fire safety in garment factories there,’ Jenny Holdcroft, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL, said in the press release.
She also said that not enough factories have been fully remediated and too many life-threatening safety issues remain uncorrected.
According to the release, Accord engineers identified 118,500 fire, electrical and structural hazards at more than 1,800 factories and seventy-nine per cent of the dangers have so far been remediated.
‘While many brands talk about supply chain transparency and social responsibility, those are just empty words without accountability,’ said Christy Hoffman, deputy general secretary of UNI.
The global unions said that the 2018 Accord would work towards handing over its functions to an appropriate national regulatory body, once that is in place.
IndustriALL and UNI are committed to working with and supporting the government of Bangladesh and the BGMEA to ensure that happens as soon as possible, the release said.
Following the Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013 that claimed the lives of more than 1,100 workers, global unions, non-governmental organisations and brands announced the first Bangladesh Accord on May 2013.
At the same time, North American brands and buyers formed Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety undertaking a five-year plan for safety inspections and training and workers’ empowerment programmes.
The platform has recently announced that it would not extend its tenure in Bangladesh after July 2018.
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