Fashion brands and unions sign new Bangladesh accord on fire, building safety
Release Date: June 29, 2017
Leading fashion brands have joined global trade unions in signing a new accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh to redouble their efforts to improve clothing supply chains.
IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, together with representatives from C&A and LC Waikiki, announced the new agreement in Paris on Thursday.
The accord expanded worker protections, aiming to ensure that factories give severance pay to employees when they shut or relocate for safety reasons.
The new agreement puts greater emphasis on the right of workers to organise and join a union, linking worker empowerment to workplace safety for the first time.
The latest agreement extends independent, expert building safety inspections for three more years for all covered factories. It also presents the possibility to expand the accord to sectors other than the garment industry.
The agreement has so far been signed by Kmart Australia, Target Australia, Primark, H&M, Inditex, C&A, Otto, KiK, Aldi South, Aldi North, Lidl, Tchibo, LC Waikiki and Helly Hansen.
A further eight brands, such as Esprit, Hüren, Bestseller, Wibra, Schmidt Group, N Brown Group, PVH, Specialty Fashion Group Australia have committed to signing it.
It means that more than 1,000 Bangladeshi garment factories supplying products to signatory brands will be covered under the new accord.
IndustriALL and UNI -- both based in Switzerland -- are signatories to the new accord, while four nongovernmental organisations including the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium will be witness signatories.
The three-year agreement builds on the achievements of the first Bangladesh accord signed in May 2013 in response to the Rana Plaza building collapse that claimed the lives of more than 1,100 workers and injured 2,500 more.
It continues the first accord’s ground-breaking legally binding framework and commitment to transparency.
It also ensures that many more factories will be inspected and renovated, as signatory brands add suppliers.
The new agreement goes into effect after the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, signed in 2013, expires in May 2018.
“The accord is, at present, the only credible option for health and safety in Bangladesh garment factories. It shows that industrial relations can be used to save lives and improve global supply chains,” said Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL.
Under the first accord, engineers carried out fire, electrical, and structural safety inspections at more than 1,800 factories, identifying 118,500 hazards. Seventy-nine percent of workplace dangers identified in the accord’s original round of inspections have been remediated.
Christy Hoffman, deputy general secretary of UNI Global Union, said: “Many said that change was not possible. We’ve proven them wrong.”
“Our aim is to create a global economy which respects the lives and dignity of all workers, and the accord is a big step along that path. The 2018 accord will continue the forward motion.”
Since the Rana Plaza tragedy, Bangladesh’s garment industry has grown—$6.6 billion in annual revenue—and so has the accord’s importance.
“I am glad that we have reached agreement to extend the accord,” said Amirul Amin of the National Garment Workers Federation, a Bangladeshi affiliate of IndustriALL.
“The IndustriALL Bangladesh Council of trade unions has zero tolerance of unsafe workplaces that threaten workers’ lives.”
Source From: bdnews24.com