The Accord on Building and Fire Safety in Bangladesh, for protecting garment workerâ€™s safety was set to expire. However, the brands, retailers and unions extended it for three more months on a tentative agreement.
deal between brands, retailers and unions to extend negotiations for three more
months prevented the lapse of an agreement aimed at protecting garment workersâ€™
safety in Bangladesh. It was originally set to expire on May 31.
In 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka
collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people and injuring 2,500. The eight-floor
building housed five garment factories owned by brands throughout Europe and
North America. A committee, appointed by the Bangladeshi government, held poor
construction and overly-heavy equipment responsible for the accident.
The accident shook Bangladeshâ€™s $34
billion garment industry which employs
more than 4 million people and the Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladesh was
signed later in 2013.
The accord has been signed by American
Eagle Outfitters, H&M and Hugo Boss, who are accountable by creating an
independent factory inspection program, and forcing more industry transparency,
by requiring the posting of
practically all of its work online.
However, many brands such as Walmart Inc, The Gap, Inc. JanSport, etc. have never signed
on to the accord.
Since 2013, hundreds of factories across
Bangladesh have been inspected, and have remedied workplace hazards. If brands
do not comply, they could wind up in court. Yet, the initiative was set up to
According to Kalpona Akter, president,
Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, the three months’ extension is just a respite and it
would maintain the status quo, but the issue is just postponed and not solved.
Her union represents some 150,000 garment workers and they fear that
if the accord expires, it will become almost impossible to retain accountable
brands and retailers that operate in Bangladesh.
Akter said that eight brands are willing to
support a new binding agreement, and she along with other activists hope more
brands will support the cause. Kalpona Akter said that the initiative also
gave unions and workers sufficient safety.