Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Bangladeshi Garment Workers Deserve Safety

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In April 2013, all eyes turned to Bangladesh following the horrific events of the Rana Plaza building collapse. The tragedy left 1,134 garment workers dead, and over 2,000 workers injured.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety (Accord), a legally binding agreement to improve workplace safety for garment workers in Bangladesh, was created. Thanks to union, activist, and consumer pressure, over 200 brands and retailers signed onto the agreement. The Accord’s program of independently conducting structural, fire, and electrical inspections, which are carried out by qualified engineers, has made workplaces safer for two million garment workers in over 1,600 factories.

Meanwhile, The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety was established as a non-legally binding alternative to the Accord. Unlike the Accord, which is a multi-stakeholder initiative, the Alliance is a corporate-led initiative. Due to a lack of transparency around the Alliance, it is unclear how exactly the Alliance has improved working conditions for garment workers. Many North American companies, including Gap and VF (owner of The North Face), opted to join the Alliance over the Accord.

Both the Accord and the Alliance are set to expire in 2018. We are encouraging both Accord and Alliance signatories to sign on to the renewed Accord, which will continue to build on the progress made by the original accord, while also placing greater emphasis on the role that workers themselves can play in ensuring their workplaces are safe, including creating safe environments for expressing both individual and collective grievances. The 2018 Accord will also allow for the scope of inspections to be expanded to include suppliers producing textiles, yarn, cloth, and other related products – meaning even more garment workers in Bangladesh will have safer working environments.

Over 50 companies have already signed on to the 2018 Accord. Join Green America in urging Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, and The North Face (VF) to renew and expand their commitments to garment workers who play an integral role in producing their clothing. Together, we can work to help prevent future garment related factory disasters in Bangladesh and ensure that garment workers do not have to risk their lives simply by going to work.

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