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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.


 

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