// Asos, M&S, John Lewis & Matalan have become some of the first British signatories of a new accord for Bangladesh garment workers’ safety
// Other big name retailers to sign up include H&M, Calvin Klein and Zara parent Inditex
British fashion retailers including Asos, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Matalan have become some of the first signatories for a new International Accord for Health and Safety in the Garment and Textile Industry, which came into force this month.
Other big retailers to sign up to the 26-month legally-binding agreement, which replaces the now-expired Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, include Zara parent Inditex, H&M, Bestseller, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing.
In total some 70 brands have already signed the accord, with many more expected to join in the next coming months.
By signing the agreement with UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union, the retailers have committed to the health and safety work already undertaken in Bangladesh and to the expansion of country-specific health and safety programmes based on the principles of the 2013 and 2018 Accord agreements.
The agreements were created in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy where more than 1,000 garment workers died after the building collapsed, with hundreds more injured.
The new agreement will be implemented in the Netherlands through the International Accord Foundation.
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.”
The International Accord was announced on August 25 and comes after months of negotiations between global unions UNI and IndustriALL and retailers.
It includes the legally-binding commitments, respect for freedom of association and independent administration and monitoring that led to the success of the Bangladesh Accord, while also expanding the remit to include other countries and an option to advance its scope to include human rights due diligence.