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International Accord: tentative agreement on expanded worker safety programmes

25 August, 2021Negotiations between IndustriALL, UNI and leading textile and garment brands signatories to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh have yielded a tentative agreement that continues the parties’ legally binding commitments to workplace safety in Bangladesh and expands the programme to other countries.

The renewed agreement preserves and advances the fundamental elements that made the Accord successful, including: respect for freedom of association; shared governance between labour and brands; a high level of transparency; safety committee training and worker awareness program; and a credible, independent complaints mechanism.

Key new features of the International Accord include:

  • Broadening the coverage to general health and safety, rather than only fire and building safety.
  • A commitment to expand the work of the International Accord to at least one other country within the first two years. Feasibility studies will start immediately after signing.
  • A commitment to continue the health and safety programme in Bangladesh through a strong cooperation with the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) that remains as a tripartite body with participation of unions in its board.
  • Expansion of the scope of the agreement to address human rights due diligence along the brands’ global supply chains.
  • A commitment to jointly seek to include more signatory brands.
  • An optional streamlined arbitration process to enforce the Accord’s terms.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, says:

“This International Accord is an important victory towards making the textile and garment industry safe and sustainable. The agreement maintains the legally binding provision for companies and most importantly the scope has been expanded to other countries and other provisions, encompassing general health and safety .

“Now, the textile and garment companies must show their commitment and sign the renewed International Accord. We congratulate our affiliates in the sector, especially those from Bangladesh, that have campaigned for binding commitments for health and safety in the industry.”

The new agreement, called the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry (International Accord), takes effect on 1 September 2021. The current agreement, a three-month extension of the Transition Accord, expires 31 August.

The Accord was first signed in 2013 following the industrial homicide that killed over 1’100 workers with the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh.