Set to expire on 31st May 2021 and we can't let it!
The Bangladesh Accord (the Accord), signed in 2013 as a consequence of the Rana Plaza catastrophe which killed 1,133 people and critically injured thousands more, will expire on the 31st May 2021; subsequently putting a halt to protecting Bangladeshi garment workers from unsafe factories.

What is the Accord?
The Accord hold brands accountable for what goes on in their supply chains to make sure another Rana Plaza disaster never happens again. This means that if brands operate in factories that have fire, electrical and/or structural safety hazards during the Accord inspections, the brand must ensure that its suppliers have sufficient funding to fix the problem.

Importantly, 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". It means that brands, retailers and factories who don't take appropriate action can be punished.
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Has it been successful?

- 93% of safety issues identified during initial inspections have been remedied.

- Over 1,300 joint labour-management factory level Safety Committees have been set up to monitor safety measurements regularly.

- Over 700 safety complaints from factory workers and their representatives have been solved.

What happens when it expires?
When the Accord expires on the 31st May 2021, in order to make sure that we can continue to protect garment workers in Bangladesh, a new international binding agreement needs to be signed which will also ensure that, eventually, other countries will be covered by a similar agreement.

Instead, brands don't want to extend the Accord and make it international. They want to limit the protection to Bangladesh and be regulated by a new national body established last year. This national body is much less effective than the Accord because worker representatives only hold one third of the governance seats (instead of half). This new national agreement is not legally binding, it doesn't have an independent secretariat to oversee the compliance, and unions will no longer be able to take brands to court. In summary, it's a return to self-monitoring which is a huge step backwards for garment worker rights.
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What can we do?

We need to put pressure on brands to negotiate this new international legally binding agreement so that the progress of the past 8 years is protected. Workers cannot be left to be 'regulated' by the much less effective national agreement that brands are wanting.

We need to remind brands of the devastation of the Rana Plaza collapse and how much progress has been made since the Accord was signed.

Tweet, email and share the above video with brands to show them the lifeline that the Accord has brought garment workers and that we can't let this end.
Article by Catherine McAteer