On 1 June 2018 the Transition Accord will take effect, working to make garment factories in Bangladesh safer. It will continue the work of its predecessor, which was established shortly after the deadly Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, to inspect factories and monitor renovations in a credible and transparent way. The new Accord has a range of new features, including the fact that it now welcomes producers of home textiles and fabric and knit accessories, next to garment factories. This means that more companies can join and more workers can be protected. However, IKEA, the largest home furnishing company in the world, has refused to bring the home textile factories it sources from in Bangladesh under the purview of the Accord.
The 2018 Transition Accord is now signed by 175 garment and home textile companies, including some of the main companies sourcing from Bangladesh such as Primark, H&M, C&A and Aldi. This covers more than 1,300 factories and approximately two million workers. As the initial Bangladesh Accord was signed by over 220 garment companies, it means that there are still many companies sourcing from Bangladesh that have refused to take responsibility for the safety of the workers producing their garments, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Sean John Apparel and Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Other garment companies have never even signed the first Accord, either creating their own, less credible and binding alternative or sticking to completely voluntary measures. These companies, which include VF Corporation (The North Face), GAP, Walmart and many others, should soon take responsibility for worker safety as well and join the Accord. Companies can and should still join after the start of the 2018 Accord, as it is never too late to start protecting workers’ lives.
One of the new features of the 2018 Accord is that it also covers factories producing home textiles and fabric and knit accessories. In March therefore Future in Our Hands (FIOH), the organization that hosts Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) in Norway, reached out to the country’s three main producers of home textile. While the two domestic companies Kid Interiør and Princess Gruppen answered favourably and signed the Accord, globally operating retail giant IKEA, originating from Sweden, refused to do so.