In the weeks that followed the collapse of Rana Plaza, the deadliest garment factory disaster in history, the Accord on Fire and Building safety in Bangladesh was created. The Accord was an agreement between the international union IndustriALL, UNI Global Union, Bangladeshi unions and more than 200 apparel brands and retailers to make fire, electrical and structural improvements in the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry. NGOs including the Clean Clothes Campaign, serve as witness signatories.
The Accord is widely recognized as the gold standard for safety, but the current agreement comes to an end in May 2021, and the legally binding aspect of the agreement as well as its ability to operate independently of brands’ control is under threat.
Labour Behind the Label has been calling on brands to protect the progress of the Accord, to prevent tragedies like Rana Plaza from happening again in the future. We urged brands to continue the Accord’s work by extending and expanding the agreement with labour signatories in its full and robust form.
Key to the agreement’s success has been its:
- Binding and enforceable commitments, resulting in a level-playing field for all signatories;
- Independent Chief Safety Inspector and secretariat;
- Trusted and independent complaint mechanism;
- Financial incentives for suppliers to comply.
This week, ASOS sent us a response confirming their support for an agreement meeting most of these conditions, thereby taking a positive and critical step forward to protect the Accord. Now it is time for other brands to follow suit and unequivocally support a a new safety agreement that is legally binding on individual brands. Brands must step up and ensure that they do not go backwards on workers safety.