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Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety is renewed

Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety is renewed

Dhaka, Bangladesh – March 2010. Garment factory in Dhaka Bangladesh in the Mohakhali area. Dhaka counts more than 4000 factories producing for export only. This factory produced garments for the dutch company Hans Textiel.

Press release
Labour Behind the Label
29 June 2017

Labour Behind the Label is pleased to announce that today, the global union federations Industriall and UNI announced an agreement with brands and retailer representatives on the language of a renewed Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The agreement has so far been signed by the UK brand Primark as well as Kmart Australia, Target Australia, H&M, Inditex (Zara), C&A, Otto, KiK, Aldi South, Aldi North, Lidl, Tchibo and LC Waikiki. A further eight brands have committed to signing and more will follow.

The Accord is the groundbreaking building safety agreement based on binding commitments by apparel brands to ensure that hazards in their factories are identified and corrected. The Accord has overseen factory renovations – from installation of fire doors to strengthening of dangerously weak structural columns – that have improved safety for millions of garment workers.

The new Accord, which takes effect in May of 2018 when the current Accord expires, extends the program for an additional three years. This means the continuation of robust, independent safety inspections to ensure that progress achieved under the first agreement is maintained and that factory owners cannot return to the unsafe practices of the past.

The new Accord, like the first, is an agreement between unions and apparel brands and retailers, and also includes, as “Witness Signatories,” four non-governmental labor rights organizations: the Clean Clothes Campaign, the International Labor Rights Forum, the Maquila Solidarity Network and the Worker Rights Consortium.

Said Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign, “The renewal of the Bangladesh Accord ensures the continuation of the most effective program to ensure the safety of factory buildings in the contemporary era of global garment production. The Accord has generated more than 100,000 documented safety improvements in more than 1,500 apparel factories, employing more than 2.5 million garment workers.”

“The Accord is the antidote to the voluntary industry auditing schemes that failed miserably to protect workers in the years leading up to the catastrophic Rana Plaza collapse,” said Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium. “The Accord model replaces voluntary promises with enforceable commitments, ensures severe economic consequences for suppliers that refuse to operate safely, and requires brands to make sure their suppliers can afford needed renovations. The renewal of the Accord is a testament to the effectiveness of this model.”

Said Judy Gearhart, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum, “We are urging the brands and retailers sourcing from Bangladesh to sign the new agreement. We believe that every genuinely responsible company will do so.”

The purpose of the extension is to ensure that the progress achieved under the first Accord is maintained and that workers in more factories are brought under the Accord’s umbrella of protection, as signatory brands and retailers add more factories to their supply chains. The new Accord also aims to support improvements to Bangladesh’s public regulatory regime.

The purpose of renewing the Accord for three more years is not to give factories currently engaged in safety renovations additional time to complete this work. All covered factories have existing corrective action plans with deadlines, all of which expire well before the end of the first Accord in May of 2018. The Accord inspectorate will hold factories to these deadlines.

For workers, the new Accord features notable improvements to the original, including a mandate that factories pay severance when they close or relocate due to safety issues, protections for union members who face retaliation from their employer when they advocate for improved safety, and enhancements to the dispute resolution mechanism, which holds brands accountable to their commitments.

Said Gearhart, “The new Accord does not have every improvement the unions and NGOs would have liked, but it keeps all critical elements of the original and adds valuable new provisions.”

The new Accord also opens the door to a possible negotiated expansion of scope, to include factories that make related products like home textiles and footwear, as well as thread and cloth. Such factories are outside the scope of the current Accord, leaving their workers unprotected. “We welcome the language in the new agreement that allows for potential negotiations to cover factories outside the current scope of the Accord”, said Zeldenrust.

Said Lynda Yanz, Executive Director of the Maquila Solidarity Network, “The Accord has not yet met all of its goals, but it has already distinguished itself as a huge advance over all the initiatives that preceded it. The agreement has unquestionably been challenging to implement and it has encountered many bumps in the road, with renovations running well behind schedule in many instances. However, the progress achieved is real, it involves tens of thousands of documented safety improvements and it has reduced risks for millions of workers.”

Nova added, “On labor rights in supply chains, rhetoric often substitutes for action, and the kind of concrete and objectively measurable progress for workers the Accord has produced is in short supply. That is why it was vital to renew the agreement.”

Read the full text of the new Accord
Read the announcement by the global union federations 

Four years after Rana Plaza disaster little has changed for workers in Bangladesh

Four years after Rana Plaza disaster little has changed for workers in Bangladesh

21 April 2017

  • Clean Clothes Campaign remembers the victims of the world’s deadliest garment industry disaster
  • Meaningful action on workers’ rights, transparency and building safety still needed

On 24 April 2017, Labour Behind the Label and the Clean Clothes Campaign network will be remembering those killed and injured at Rana Plaza, the multi-story building which collapsed in Bangladesh four years ago. In a statement released today Clean Clothes Campaign sends its thoughts and sympathies to those still grieving for their loved ones, and those still suffering from the physical and psychological scars left by the disaster.

Clean Clothes Campaign is also marking the fourth anniversary of Rana Plaza by outlining a set of key actions needed from governments, brands and employers on building safety, workers rights and transparency. These actions are needed to deliver the fundamental change promised in the aftermath of the disaster.

In its statement, available online, Clean Clothes Campaign addresses a range of recurring issues haunting the garment industry that were particularly highlighted by the Rana Plaza disaster. When the building, which housed five separate garment factories, collapsed, it had not been properly inspected, its workers were not in a trade union, and there was no public record of which brands had been buying from those factories.

The legally binding Bangladesh Accord on Building and Fire Safety was set up in the aftermath of the disaster to ensure that proper inspections were carried out and that their findings were acted upon. This has led to a significant improvement in the safety of factories in Bangladesh. However, progress towards a safer garment industry is being hampered by the failure to address the continued repression of workers’ rights and the unjustified secrecy around where clothing brands produce their goods.

This secrecy also hampered the campaign for compensation which followed the Rana Plaza collapse. Union activists and journalists had to search through the rubble for labels and documents needed to prove the link between brands and factories. As Ben Vanpeperstraete of Clean Clothes Campaign pointed out: “Workers should not have to risk their lives or their jobs trying to smuggle labels and documents out of a building to get their voices heard. Workers have a right to know who it is they work for, and consumers should know where the clothes they buy are made.”

Clean Clothes Campaign, in its statement, developed a series of clear, simple and achievable actions which, if taken by the brands and governments, would bring us much closer to the sustainable garment industry workers and consumers have been promised. These actions include an extension of the current Bangladesh Accord beyond its initial five-year validity and the Accord’s strengthening. Clean Clothes Campaign also calls on brands and retailers to improve transparency of their supply chain, allowing workers and consumers to more closely monitor working conditions. In addition, the statement highlights the need for greater action from the European Union – Bangladesh’s largest export market – to use trade regulation to enforce union rights in Bangladesh and to pass regulation requiring brands and retailers to disclose their supply chain.

As we mark the fourth anniversary of the deadliest disaster in the garment industry, we call on governments and brands to take action now to finally deliver on their promises to work towards change.

Building on efforts to improve transparency in the garment and footwear industry, Labour Behind the Label and the Change Your Shoes project will launch a campaign next month calling on shoe brands to publish supplier information and protect human rights in their supply chain.

Read the full statement issued by Clean Clothes Campaign here.

 

Compensation agreed for victims of Pakistan factory fire

Compensation agreed for victims of Pakistan factory fire

After four years of campaigning and months of negotiations, an agreement has been reached to pay more than US$5 million in compensation to the survivors and families of workers killed in Pakistan’s worst industrial accident.

On 11 September 2012, more than 250 workers lost their lives and over 50 were injured in a fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi.  Workers burnt to death trapped behind barred windows and locked doors. Others jumped for their lives from the upper floors, sustaining permanent disabilities.

German retailer KiK, Ali Enterprises’ only known buyer, has now agreed to pay an additional US$5.15 million to fund loss of earnings, medical and allied care, and rehabilitation costs to the injured survivors and dependents of those killed in the disaster.

It is a day of respite for the victims’ families as their cries have been heard. We know that our nearest and dearest will never come back, but we hope that this kind of tragedy will never ever happen again. The government, brands and factory owners must seriously observe labour and safety standards in factories.

 

Saeeda Khatoon, a widow and vice president of Ali Enterprise Factory Fire Affectees Association, who lost her only son in the fire.

 

Previously KiK paid US$1 million to a relief fund. However, it has taken joint campaigning by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), PILER, IndustriALL Global Union, to which NTUF is affiliated, Clean Clothes Campaign (represented in the UK by Labour Behind the Label) and other allies including UNI Global Union, to secure proper compensation.

The new funding Arrangement follows negotiations facilitated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) between IndustriALL, CCC, and KiK, at the request of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Arrangement is intended to supplement payments due to victims by public social security schemes in Pakistan to meet compensation levels required by ILO Employment Injury Benefits Convention 121. Additional periodical payments to victims are expected to begin in early 2017.

This historic agreement is unprecedented in the context of Pakistan’s labour movement. After four years of struggle the victims of this tragedy get justice and their pain and suffering are acknowledged internationally. We are thankful to IndustriALL and CCC who represented the workers’ case successfully. The ILO has also played a vital role to make this landmark agreement possible. Let it remind us that safety in the workplace is a right, not a privilege.

 

Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan

 

Just weeks before the fatal fire, Ali Enterprises received SA 8000 certification from the auditing firm Social Accountability International, meaning it had purportedly met international standards in nine areas, including health and safety. The ensuing tragedy underlines the failure of social auditing models and raises serious concerns about the standard of safety inspections in Pakistan as well as the implementation of labour laws and building safety codes.

Ineke Zeldenrust of Clean Clothes Campaign stated: “We very much welcome KIK’s recognition of its duty to provide remedy. This Arrangement is an excellent example of how buyers can and should take responsibility for workplace related deaths and injuries in their supply chain, especially in countries where workplaces are known to be unsafe. Garment workers in Pakistan continue to be at risk. All buyers must now focus on ensuring that proper and effective due diligence and remediation measures are put in place in order to prevent terrible incidents like these in the future.”

The Arrangement is the third in a line of compensation agreements negotiated by the labour movement following large-scale disasters in the garment industry at Tazreen fashions in 2012 and Rana Plaza in 2013, both in Bangladesh.

Summary of compensation agreement

  • The US$5.15 million to be funded by KiK will include a US$250,000 margin for a fluctuation in costs, meaning that US$4.9 million will go to the affected families and survivors.
  •    The implementation, administration and governance of the Arrangement will be developed in a process facilitated by the ILO. It will involve close consultation with relevant constituents and stakeholders, as well as a supervisory role for the Sindh High Court.
  •     In total, the Arrangement will provide US$6.6 million for the compensation process, with US$5.9 being provided by KiK and US$700,000 being funded by Sindh Employees Social Security Institution (SESSI).
  •     Claimants will be paid a monthly pension. The amount will differ according to the individual’s financial situation and number of dependents.
  •     The pensions will be not at living wage levels, as the international standards for workplace injury are based on actual wages earned. In the Ali Enterprises Arrangement however the proxy used for the actual earned wages is generous and pensions are indexed to meet the inflation rate.
  •     The Arrangement does not cover damages for pain and suffering.
Shop demo 18th April 2016: H&M

Shop demo 18th April 2016: H&M

Shop demo 18th April: H&M

H&M was one the first brands to sign the Accord: a legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to work towards a safe garment industry in Bangladesh. Yet despite this early commitment 55% of H&M’s factories are still not safe for workers and 13% of theirs suppliers in Bangladesh still have locks on the doors of their fire exits. With 205 out of 229 suppliers behind schedule, the ongoing safety delays at H&M’s suppliers is unacceptable.

The few H&M supplier factories can be called safe is the shocking reality of an industry that is dysfunctional and exploitative. If H&M can continue to reap profits, its workers should be working in safety. It’s really that simple.

On 18th April Labour Behind the Label travelled to London’s H&M store on Oxford Street along with supporters and our friends War on Want to demand that H&M fix their factories. We think H&M along with other big brands and their suppliers have a responsibility for their workers. No worker should go to work everyday with fear of their safety and for another Rana Plaza disaster.

Missed the demo?

Four years after Rana Plaza disaster little has changed for workers in Bangladesh

Report: Rana Plaza Three Years On: Compensation, Justice and Workers’ Safety

Report: Rana Plaza Three Years On

Compensation, Justice and Workers’ Safety

On the eve of the third year anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy a new report has been published by the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Labor Rights forum. The report provides an update on the key developments and outcomes of the three main areas of focus following the collapse: the Rana Plaza Arrangement; the Bangladesh Fire and Building safety Accord and to improve the legal climate regarding Freedom of Association.

Download the report >> here.

Published in 2016.

Join the global day of action to remember Rana Plaza, 24th April 2015

Join the global day of action to remember Rana Plaza, 24th April 2015

The 24th April 2015 will be the two year anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, the deadliest disaster in the history of the global garment industry. Join this global day of action, uniting with people worldwide to demand justice for the victims, to hold brands and retailers accountable and to ensure that vital and lasting changes are made in the global apparel industry.

 

Why we must act
On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, housing five garment factories, came crashing down. At least 1,134 people lost their lives. Many were killed instantly. Many more were buried alive under eight stories of concrete and machinery, among the remains of the garments that they were producing for global corporations. Thousands were injured and severely traumatized. Some people were forced to amputate their own limbs in order to escape this concrete grave.

 

In the days and weeks immediately following the Rana Plaza disaster, the world united in pledging support for the survivors and victims’ families. Governments, apparel brands, and the public called for urgent change to the industry. Unfortunately, change has been slow in coming, and many initial promises made have since eroded.

 

Action remains urgently needed and necessary. Some multinational brands are still refusing to pay what they owe in compensation. This is unacceptable.

 

Join us! It’s easy.
Here’s how:

  • Download the action menu for a full list of things to do
  • Commit to taking action on, or in advance of, April 24, 2015, by signing up to this facebook event.
  • Check if there is a demonstration already happening near you on this map. If there isn’t one that you can join, find a Benetton or Asda store near you, and plan a demonstration for April 24th with some friends. Add it to the map!
  • If you only have a few minutes, post a solidarity message on facebook or twitter such as: ‘No one should die for the price of cheap t-shirt. Remember #RanaPlaza.’ or ‘Cheap Ts cost lives. Remember #RanaPlaza. #Solidarity’
  • Set a reminder on your phone to hold a minute of silence on 24 April, at 11.34 to remember the 1134 people who died two years ago


What we want

On the Global Day of Action (April 24th), and leading up to then, join us to call for industry reforms, demanding that people are put above profit, and safeguarding workers’ welfare and livelihoods.

 

IMMEDIATE DEMANDS:

  • We demand that Rana Plaza survivors and victims’ families receive the full compensation they are entitled to.
  • We demand all apparel brands and retailers doing business in Bangladesh sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

 

LONG-TERM DEMANDS:

  • We demand transparency and due diligence.
  • We demand accountability and access to justice.
  • We demand freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

 

There must never be another Rana Plaza. The only way to ensure this is to thread these principles through the foundations of the industry.

 

Together we will continue to remember the victims who died for the price of the cheap clothes we wear. Together we must secure justice for their families through full compensation. Together we can reform the industry so that all garment workers are afforded a safe and dignified life.

April 2015.