We Need to Fight to Keep the Bangladesh Accord for Garment Worker Safety

Isn’t it crazy? We’ve become oblivious to what’s happening in Bangladesh— the country who’s 93% of garment exports go to the U.S. and Europe.

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of what is going on with the Bangladesh Accord that was set to expire May of 2018.

…and yes, it relates to you.

 
Photo: Kristov Vardino / Courtesy of Clean Clothes Campaign

Photo: Kristov Vardino / Courtesy of Clean Clothes Campaign

 

Heard of the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse that killed 1,134 garment workers? That happened in 2013 due to building and fire hazards and lack of regulation.⁣

Soon after, unions and some 200 brands, including big companies like H&M and Inditex (Zara), came up with the Bangladesh Accord.

“The Accord is an independent, legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to work towards a safe and healthy garment and textile industry in Bangladesh.”

-BANGLADESHACCORD.ORG

For the past five years the signatory brands and factories of the Accord have played a huge role in improving garment labor conditions on the factory level.

The Accord binds those involved to inspect factories, create an action plan, and implement within X months before being disqualified from the Accord.⁣ Despite the Bangladesh Accord Committee helping lead 1,600 factory inspections, another obstacle lies ahead.

 
Blocked garment factory exits before and after the Accord. Photo courtesy of  Clean Clothes Campaign .

Blocked garment factory exits before and after the Accord. Photo courtesy of Clean Clothes Campaign.

 

The Government of Bangladesh now wants the work of the Accord. They ordered the Accord be handed over to a national governing body, the Remediation and Coordination Cell (RCC), however the Accord is fighting to appeal this.

Analysts say this governing body is not ready to take on the work of the Accord themselves and if handed over, would reverse the significant improvements made in the past five years of oversight and transparent inspections that ultimately protect garment workers.

Rob Wayss, Executive Director of the Accord told Reuters,

“[The RCC] is in its infancy, they have just hired their staff, they really don’t have their systems in place, their engineers need a lot of additional training just like ours did".”

 
Advocates protesting with  Labour Behind the Label  and Clean Clothes Campaign. Photo: Courtesy of Clean Clothes Campaign

Advocates protesting with Labour Behind the Label and Clean Clothes Campaign. Photo: Courtesy of Clean Clothes Campaign

 

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh is pushing back the hearing on who controls the work of the Accord for the 6th time to April 6th.

“We call upon the GoB jointly work with the Accord Committee in these efforts so that the Appellate Court can be informed accordingly; so that unwelcomed, negative attention to the Bangladesh industry can be averted; and so that the laudable progress on safety and health of the past 5+ years becomes sustainable.”

-INZEKE ZELDENRUST, CLEAN CLOTHES CAMPAIGN