Today we celebrate the renewal of the ground-breaking Bangladesh Accord and its historic expansion into new countries. Under this new agreement, renamed the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, garment workers in Bangladesh will continue to be protected under the pioneering model of worker safety. Just as significantly, the renewed Accord model, which has saved countless lives in Bangladesh, will be expanded to other garment-producing nations, where workers’ lives are currently at risk daily.
Brands have until September 1st, 2021, to be a part of this historic agreement (but may also sign on anytime after) which includes:
1) Binding and individually enforceable contracts with brands: Rather than leaving enforcement and accountability up to brand’s discretion, the Accord contends that any brand signatory is held legally responsible for ensuring human rights standards within their supply chain, and maintaining workplace safety. This is an actionable step against the previously voluntary basis by which brands independently held accountability over their supply chains.
2) Overseen by an independent secretariat: This independent secretariat serves to mitigate for any brand biases and ensure that the new international Accord maintains human rights protections for the garment workers it is intended to serve. Essentially, it acts as a mechanism of additional enforceable accountability.
3) Allowing for expansion to other countries: 2021 negotiations have built upon the growing occurrences of industrial disasters among garment manufacturing sites, especially in the years following the Rana Plaza collapse. While building safety in Bangladesh happens to be prioritized because of this devastating event, other countries are equally unsafe. Currently, among the more popular outsourcing locations for fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, etc., are: China, India, Malaysia, and Pakistan — all countries with garment manufacturing sectors that perpetuate hazardous workplace conditions due to a lack of legally binding and enforceable regulation.
While this renewal is a major win for the fashion industry, it’s an even bigger win for garment workers, unions and citizen activists worldwide. Like #PayUp, this renewal signifies a shift in power within the industry, truly showcasing how trade unions, civil society organizations and governments can come together to make positive change. Over the past few months, we’ve taken to social media to demand brand accountability, showcased garment maker voices, held press conferences, and campaigned in support of the Accord.
Up next for Remake? We will continue to urge brands to sign onto the new agreement, especially those who source clothing from high-risk countries in South Asian regions and beyond, and keep our citizen community updated on which brands keep their workers safe, and which continue to choose profit over human life.
Let’s continue to hold brands accountable.