UK brands urged to sign new accord to protect garment workers

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Workers’ rights group, Labour Behind the Label is calling on all UK clothing brands to sign a new pact designed to protect garment and textiles factory workers.

The International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, which came into force on 1 September, requires companies to take responsibility for garment worker safety in their supply chain. 

So far, 91 brands including British fashion retailers ASOS, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Matalan, have signed up. Others, including Primark and JD Sports are reportedly yet to join. 

The legally binding deal replaces the one which was formed after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in 2013, killing more than 1,100 people. 

The Accord agreement created in the aftermath of that tragedy in Bangladesh meant that brands and factories faced legal action if they were found to have inadequate health and safety standards or if they failed to address problems in a time period.  

The new agreement will enforce human rights due diligence along supply chains in textiles companies. Photograph: iStock

Out of the thousands of factory inspections carried out since 2013, almost 200 have lost their contracts owing to poor safety standards. 

That deal, which was agreed with two unions representing retail and garment factory workers, UNI Global and IndustriALL respectively, expired on 31 August. 

According to the Guardian, the new agreement now in place covers general health and safety for workers, not just fire and building safety and human rights due diligence along supply chains.  

Commenting in a tweet, Labour Behind the Label wrote: “After months of campaigning, brands and unions have agreed on a new International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. This is a huge win for workers. ALL brands must sign this new agreement in order to keep their workers safe.” 

UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, said: “Today marks a significant step forward for workers in the global garment industry. In signing the International Accord, brands and retailers shore up their commitment to factory safety in Bangladesh and also agree to establishing badly-needed enforceable and transparent health and safety programmes in at least one other garment producing country.

"We are delighted that so many global retailers and brands have signed up to the International Accord and in doing so, are taking responsibility for garment worker safety in their supply chains. We look forward to welcoming more signatories to the International Accord as soon as possible.” 


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