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24 Apr 2023

Matt Hickman, Sourcing Journal

USA: Activists & labour leaders protest Levi's refusal to sign Pakistan Accord on safety in the garment industry on tenth anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse


With the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse...labor and human rights activists took to Times Square on Friday to protest...Levi’s, which has refused to sign the Pakistan Accord addressing safety in the garment sector.

To date, 49 apparel companies have signed the Accord, a binding, three-year agreement empowering independent safety investigators to inspect more than 300 Pakistani manufacturing facilities and guarantee certain health and safety provisions for workers...

...protestors stood with signs in front of the Levi’s store and four of them lay on the ground covered in white shrouds to represent the four workers who died after breathing in toxic fumes at the Artistic Milliners denim factory in Karachi, Pakistan in January 2022. Meanwhile, activist leaders Khalid Mahmood from the Labor Education Foundation of Pakistan and Nazma Akter, founder of the Bangladeshi Awaj Foundation, tried to enter the storefront, they said, to personally deliver a letter to Levi’s management, but were turned away by store employees and police. Ultimately, event organizers said, the store manager agreed to pass the letter on to corporate offices.

“We see so many incidents happening on a daily basis, workers being injured or killed at these factories and these big brands like Levi’s and others, they’re producing from those factories, so we think they are equally responsible for the workers and we are here to hold them accountable,” Mahmood told Sourcing Journal...

For its part, Levi’s acknowledges the need for improved working conditions at factories in Asia, but contends that the best way forward is to rely on industry standards and third-party organizations.

“Our Terms of Engagement current assessments are based on industry-leading standards and local- country laws, conducted by specialized third-party experts,” Levi’s previously told Sourcing Journal last year. “Following a risk-based approach, we also conduct third-party assessments with direct suppliers operating in Cambodia and Pakistan, with processes in place to take corrective action wherever deemed necessary. In 2022, we’ll complete phase two of our assessment in Pakistan and our third-party grievance reporting hotline will expand to all factories across Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Pakistan.”...

On Monday, Levi’s referred Sourcing Journal to its past statements on the matter and didn’t respond to questions about why it hasn’t signed the Accord...