Fighters for equity within the fashion space can rejoice — The Bangladesh Accord has not only been renewed, but now also expanded into new countries.
Through a revamped agreement — now known as the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry — garment workers in Bangladesh will now have continued protection under the pioneering model on worker safety.
The Accord has already protected thousands of women throughout Bangladesh, and under its new guidelines, will be expanded to other garment-producing nations where workers face similar dangers and harsh working conditions.
Here’s a breakdown of what the accord includes:
The Bangladesh Accord requires that companies must maintain “binding and individually enforceable contracts with brands.” This sort of commitment ensures that instead of leaving accountability to the brand, the Accord contends that any brand signatory is held legally responsible for “ensuring human rights standards within their supply chain, and maintaining workplace safety.”
The binding also requires that all of the work be overseen by an independent secretariat, who will act specifically to “mitigate for any brand biases and ensure that the new international Accord maintains human rights protections.”
This person will essentially act as an enforcer of this new required accountability.
Finally, these revised negotiations will hopefully inspire a new wave of activism in addressing the unsafe conditions found within other countries. While building safety in Bangladesh has been addressed, other countries are still navigating equally devastating circumstances.
According to Remake, among the more popular outsourcing locations for fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, etc., are: China, India, Malaysia, and Pakistan. These are all countries with garment manufacturing sectors that not only perpetuate hazardous workplace conditions, but also lack the necessary accountability to enforce tangible change.
At its core, the renewal is a major win for the fashion industry, for garment workers, unions and citizen activists worldwide.
“COVID-19 and the growing humanitarian crisis faced by the women who make our clothes – fashion’s essential workforce – has made clear that the era for voluntary brand commitments is over,” says Ayesha Barenblat, CEO of Remake, in a statement. “The Accord has made millions of garment makers safe in Bangladesh. As a Pakistani-American activist I look forward to this agreement extending to my home country someday soon.”
For more information, visit www.bangladeshaccord.org.