// Retailers sign new agreement to protect workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry
// The initiative comes after months of deadlock between fashion retailers and trade unions
// The new agreement will take effect next Wednesday
A new agreement intended to protect workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry has been signed by retailers, which aims to extend a pact with garment workers and factory owners.
The initiative comes after months of deadlock between fashion retailers and trade unions.
The new agreement, the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, will take effect next Wednesday.
It will replace the landmark Accord on Fire and Building Safety, forged in 2013 in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1100 garment workers.
In the original agreement, almost 200 international brands — including H&M and Primark — agreed for the first time to legally binding safety commitments, independent inspections at the factories, and contributions for safety training and factory improvements.
As that accord neared expiration, the Bangladeshi fashion sector continued to grapple with the fallout of the pandemic.
The new agreement contains many of the hallmarks of the original, including the ability to subject retailers to legal action if their factories fail to meet labor safety standards; shared responsibility for governance between suppliers and brands; safety committee training and monitoring overseen by the Bangladeshi-based RMG Sustainability Council; and an independent complaints mechanism.
The agreement is valid for 26 months.
H&M was the first retailer to confirm that it had signed the new agreement, followed by Inditex.