As the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh marks its second anniversary, the garment industry in Bangladesh is on the way to become safe for its thousands of workers.
In May 2013, IndustriALL Global Union, Uni Global Union and global garment brands signed an unprecedented agreement to make garment factories safe in Bangladesh, following the Rana Plaza tragedy.
With more than 200 company signatories and 1,500 factories covered by the agreement, the Accord has embarked on a large-scale effort to identify and resolve all major safety risks in these factories.
The Accord has acted immediately in cases where inspections found safety problems posing imminent danger to workers’ lives. In all factories, the signatories and factories are developing and implementing Corrective Action Plans to remediate all identified safety hazards.
The enormous task of actually fixing the safety concerns at all inspected factories and building effective worker-management safety committees in all Accord supplier factories is now under way.
Brad Loewen, chief safety inspector of the Accord says:
“Fixing all these hazards is a massive amount of work for the RMG industry, but safety remediation work at the inspected factories is underway. There has been especially good progress on electrical remediation which is positive as most factory fires are caused by electrical hazards. As a result, we have helped prevent fires in factories covered by the Accord.
“We are pleased to also report that we have verified the first fully remediated factories where all fire, electrical, and structural safety corrective actions from the initial inspections are complete.”
The initial inspections by the Accord have brought the urgency to improve workplace safety in the Bangladeshi RMG to the fore.
Rob Wayss, executive director of the Accord, says:
“Identifying the issues and developing plans to correct them is the first step. In the three remaining years of the Accord we will work with our signatories and suppliers to complete the remediation at all factories and ensure that a functioning safety and health committee capable of maintaining and monitoring safety issues on a day-to day basis is in place at every Accord listed factory.
“This requires a concerted effort from the factories with support from the Accord signatory companies and Accord union colleagues. The Accord team stands ready to support all parties if we hit obstacles in this road ahead.”
IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina was one of the architects behind the Accord and says:
Two years on, the Accord has made important progress towards making the factories safe. But if the Bangladeshi garment industry is to be truly sustainable, we also need strong unions that are not constantly under attack. IndustriALL is relentless in pursuing our goal to organize the garment industry in Bangladesh and to fight for a living wage for all garment workers.
About the Accord
The Accord is an independent, legally binding agreement between garment brands and trade unions designed to work towards a safe and healthy Bangladeshi Ready-Made Garment Industry. Our purpose is to enable a working environment in which no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses, or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures.