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DHAKA – Swedish retail giant IKEA has been accused of “free riding” on the back of investments by other Bangladesh Accord signatories. The 2018 Transition Accord will take effect this week, and IKEA is among a handful of companies, also including VF Corp and Abercrombie & Fitch, not yet to have signed.IKEA has five main suppliers in Bangladesh, and research suggests one of these is covered by the Accord.

Christie Miedema, campaign and public outreach coordinator at CCC: “At this specific supplier covered by the Accord IKEA is free riding the work of fellow companies that teamed up and put money and efforts into a collective scheme to make factories better. IKEA profits from its results without chipping in, and at the same time leaving workers at others suppliers inadequately protected.”

The new Accord 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.

It is now signed by more than 175 garment and home textile companies, including some of the main companies sourcing from Bangladesh such as Primark, H&M, C&A and Aldi.

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 Future in Our Hands (FIOH), the organisation that hosts Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) in Norway, reached out to the country’s three main producers of home textiles. While the two domestic companies Kid Interiør and Princess Gruppen answered favourably and signed the Accord, globally IKEA, originating from Sweden, refused to do so.

In communication with representatives of FIOH and CCC Norway, IKEA claimed its own code of conduct, ‘the IKEA Way’ (IWAY), is sufficient to ensure safety at the company’s suppliers (a claim which many retailers might justifiably attempt to make).

Adds Miedema: “IKEA, Abercrombie, VF Corporation and any other company that has thus far refrained from joining the Accord are doing themselves and their customers a disservice and are knowingly putting the lives of the workers producing for them at risk by sticking to opaque systems that so woefully failed in the past.”

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