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AMSTERDAM – Rights groups and unions claim US apparel retailers are dragging their heels in signing the Pakistan Accord, the safety inspection programme for Pakistan’s textile sector. Once implemented, the Pakistan Accord, will include 750,000 workers in and is based on the principles of the Bangladesh Accord. Currently 194 brands and retailers are signed on to the Bangladesh Accord, covering around 2.4 million workers in Bangladesh, and 46 brands and retailers have so far signed the Pakistan Accord.

In January2023, Accord Steering Committee members brands Bestseller, C&A, H&M, Inditex, Otto Group, and PVH Corp. released a statement reaffirming their commitment to the Pakistan Accord and encouraging more brands to sign the agreement.

“Although significant progress in Bangladesh’s garment industry has been made, safe factories still need to be fought for,” said Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary.

“Workers who produce the clothes that we wear deserve a workplace that provides them with a living wage and decent working conditions, not a workplace that threatens to take their lives. More brands need to join the Accord, especially in North America, to gain the leverage we need to extend it to more countries and make it a truly global Accord.”

Added Christy Hoffman, UNI Global Union general secretary: “On this solemn [Rana Plaza] anniversary, we mourn for the lives lost and forever changed by the Rana Plaza tragedy, and we honour them by making sure that another disaster like this never happens again. The best way to do that is to expand the Accord’s work and number of brand signatories.

“The Accord has a proven track record of making work safer, which is more than we can say for corporate-backed audits. In fact, some brands like Walt Disney demand that their factories meet Accord standards, and yet they have not committed to supporting its implementation by signing the agreement.”

The Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was initially signed on 15 May 2013 between UNI Global Union, IndustriALL Global Union, eight Bangladeshi trade unions and 40 brands. More than 220 global brands and retailers had signed the Bangladesh Accord by 2018.

To maintain and expand the Accord progress, over 190 brands and retailers signed the 2018 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Transition Accord) with UNI and IndustriALL on 1 June 2018. 

In May 2019, the Accord Steering Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Association (BGMEA) in which it was agreed to establish a national, independent organization, the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) to carry forward the workplace safety programmes of the Accord in Bangladesh.

In 2021 the Accord signatories reached a new phase in their partnership and established the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile & Garment Industry (International Accord). This agreement came into effect on 1 September 2021 with 77 brand signatories. As of 20 April 2023, International Accord has 164 brands and retailers as signatories.

The Pakistan Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry (Pakistan Accord) between UNI, IndustriALL and brands and retailers was announced in December 2022, with the intention to begin implementation in 2023 in progressive phases over an initial period of three years.

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