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Article

29 Jul 2021

Author:
Vogue Business

Bangladesh: What's at risk if the Bangladesh Accord expires

"The Bangladesh Accord is set to expire. Here’s what’s at risk", 29 July 2021

[...]

The Bangladesh Accord, the legally-binding agreement between brands and trade unions established after the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 killed more than 1,100 people, is set to expire next month....However, after being extended temporarily beyond the initial expiration in May, negotiations for renewal are ongoing and a long-term deal remains elusive.

...The trade unions party to the accord are unequivocal in their call for it to be renewed; there’s less certainty from brands and retailers. Unions have promised not to sign a watered down version, meaning the accord is at risk of disappearing all together.

...What sets the Bangladesh Accord apart from other industry initiatives and collaborations is that it both holds signatory brands legally accountable for safety violations in their supply chain, and requires them to invest some financial resources for fixing them.

...The improvements tied to the accord come with costs, and that’s a key reason critics say brands are now shying away.

...Vogue Business contacted over a dozen brands; most did not respond or would not agree to interviews, citing ongoing negotiations.

...Asos says it plans to sign a renewal of the accord. PVH, which in January reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability and human rights around the world and was one of the first brands to sign the initial accord, did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did Gap, which participated in the 2013 negotiations but ultimately did not sign the accord because of the dispute resolution mandate it contains.

....While the accord did not address all the labour rights issues that advocates would like to see improved — wages and the right to unionise, for example — Barenblat emphasises that it did improve more than building safety alone. It has also given workers more of a voice, because it establishes a protocol of workers being able to escalate complaints to brand level, if managers fail to address them, and the brand accountability mechanism kicks in.

[...]

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