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15 Apr 2021

Clean Clothes Campaign

Bangladesh: Clean Clothes Campaign calls on Accord signatories to negotiate new legally binding agreement with unions to ensure worker safety

“Protect progress – the Bangladesh Accord”, April 2021

The Bangladesh garment industry has a long history of factory incidents. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, created after the Rana Plaza collapse of 2013, has made a real change by making factories safer. The current agreement will run out by the end of May 2021. Action is needed to protect progress made for workplace safety.

Signatories to the Accord need to negotiate a new international legally binding agreement with the unions, in order to protect the progress made by the Accord in the past years…

The Accord is a binding instrument initiated by Bangladeshi trade unions and Global Union Federations together with labour rights groups…

In 2019 a Memorandum of Understanding was reached between the employers’ organization BGMEA and the Accord. We have our concerns about this agreement especially as in 2020 it was decided to continue on the original time path for transitioning work on the ground to the newly establish RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), despite the fact that the pandemic made normal preparations impossible. We have kept on closely monitoring the RSC over the past months.

The binding and enforceable character of the programme carried out by the RSC, is only safeguarded because brands and retailers are also still signatory of the 2018 Transition Accord … This agreement however runs out on 31 May 2021. To prevent the RSC from becoming yet another industry-led voluntary mechanism, the brands and retailers who so proudly signed the Accord before, must make sure to lay their commitments down in writing again: in a new international legally binding agreement.