NGO Signatories to Bangladesh Accord Welcome New Binding Worker Safety Agreement

Labor rights groups say “every brand that values workers’ lives” will sign the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry

Today, apparel brands and labor unions announced an agreement on a new International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, thereby preserving, extending, and expanding the model pioneered by the Bangladesh Accord for protecting worker safety. The non-governmental organization signatories (known as witness signatories) to the Bangladesh Accord – Clean Clothes Campaign, Worker Rights Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, and Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum – issued the following statement:
We welcome, and look forward to signing, this new international safety agreement, which maintains the vital elements of the ground-breaking model established by the Bangladesh Accord: legal enforceability of brands’ commitments, independent oversight of brand compliance, the obligation to pay prices to suppliers sufficient to support safe workplaces, and the obligation to cease doing business with any factory that refuses to operate safely. The successful outcome of negotiations this summer will ensure that the sweeping safety gains the Accord has delivered in Bangladesh will be maintained and extended.

This model, which has saved countless lives in Bangladesh, will also now be expanded to other countries where workers’ lives remain daily at risk. Eight years since the inception of the original Accord, the new International Accord takes the important and overdue step to expand its coverage beyond Bangladesh. It is vital that this process will be taken on swiftly and unreservedly for the benefit of textile and garment workers who have called for better safety measures for many years.

Under the new agreement, the continuation of the progress on fire and building safety achieved in Bangladesh over the past eight years, and the expansion of the program beyond Bangladesh, will be ensured through the work of the Accord Secretariat, a fully independent oversight body with the authority to verify and enforce brand compliance. Importantly, only brands that are willing to sign the new enforceable agreement will be able to avail themselves of inspections and other services from the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), in Bangladesh, ensuring a level playing field without a double standard for brand accountability.

Every responsible apparel and textile brand – every brand that places any value on the lives of the workers who sew its clothes – will sign this new agreement. It is especially important that brands and retailers that failed to sign the original Accord sign this one. These brands have consciously chosen to risk the lives of the workers in their contract factories; their recklessness must now end.

We congratulate the hundreds of trade unions, civil society organizations, parliamentarians, and governments around the world that have advocated this year for the continuation of the Accord. Their efforts were instrumental in getting this good outcome. We must now turn our attention to ensuring that every brand that sources clothing from high-risk countries, in South Asia and beyond, signs the new International Safety Accord.

JJ Rosenbaum, Executive Director of Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-IRLF) said: “This legally binding agreement is a critical step in holding brands and their suppliers accountable and pushing them to create safe workplaces for garment and textile workers in Bangladesh. Legally binding and enforceable agreements involving trade unions, labor rights organizations and brands and their suppliers are key to preventing tragedies like Rana Plaza from happening ever again.”

Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator at Clean Clothes Campaign, said: “This agreement will begin the long-awaited expansion of this model that holds brands legally accountable to other countries where workers’ lives continue to be at risk. In many of these countries, unions and labor rights organizations have been asking for effective action in the field of workplace safety for years. We are happy this agreement will now become truly international and look forward to it being expanded soon to the countries where the need is highest and the demand is greatest.”

Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium said: “Garment workers in Bangladesh used to die in the dozens and hundreds making t-shirts and sweaters for the world’s leading apparel brands. The Accord put an end to that horror. Provided enough brands sign, this new agreement will ensure it never returns.”


Notes to editor:
● The announcement of the negotiating brands and trade unions is available on the website of the Bangladesh Accord:

● Last week, Clean Clothes Campaign, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and Worker Rights Consortium published a legal brief detailing that brands accountable under current French and future German corporate due diligence legislation could be held liable if they decide to not sign a new agreement:

● Garment worker unions and labor rights organizations in Pakistan have been calling for an expansion of the Accord model to Pakistan for a long time. This report from 2019 highlights their demands and the urgency for expanding the Accord program to Pakistan:

Oxfam AmericaPartnership for Working FamiliesRainforest Action Network (RAN)The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Unidad Latina en Accion -ConnecticutWashington Office on Latin America WeCount! -Florida Witness for Peace Solidarity CollectiveWorkers Center of Central New YorkWorkers Defense Action Fund -TexasWorkers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera -Nashville

Cooperationand Development (OECD) must be used to align its practices regarding freedoms of association, expression and assembly with those of the OECD.In addition, the Biden administration should impress upon Colombia the importance of accepting the fact-finding mission recently proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).The U.S. human rights and labor movements, stand in solidarity with the National Strike Committee (Comité Nacional del Paro) and the Colombian people from different sectors, communities and regions, especially young people and women,small farmers,indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, as they continueto peacefullymobilize and protest in support of their full demands, including negotiating an agreement with the Colombian social movements on taxreformthat motivated the recent protests, and negotiations over the Unified Emergency Proposal of the National Strike Committee.These demands are not the product of the most recent events but reflect widespread discontent with the Duque government’s refusal to honor the commitments of the 2016 peace process, rising poverty and inequality, and public health distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.Simply de-escalating the violent repression of valid social protest while urgently needed will not resolve the root causes of the 2019 protests and current ones.We urge theBidenadministration to offerstrongguidance and formsof assistance that focus on immediately restoring constitutional order with full protection of human rights and democracy to the country andsupporting good faith negotiations to reach clear and binding commitments on these issues.Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent matter. Sincerely,ActionAid USAARISE CHICAGOCASA Casa Latina -SeattleCenter for Constitutional Rights (CCR)Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) -MinnesotaCoalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)Fair World ProjectFarmworker Association of FloridaFood Chain Workers AllianceGeorgia Stand-UpGlobal Health PartnersGlobal Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF)Jobs with Justice Justice Is GlobalLatin America Working Group (LAWG)National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)National Employment Law Project (NELP)New Labor Oxfam AmericaPartnership for Working FamiliesRainforest Action Network (RAN)The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Unidad Latina en Accion -ConnecticutWashington Office on Latin America WeCount! -Florida Witness for Peace Solidarity CollectiveWorkers Center of Central New YorkWorkers Defense Action Fund -TexasWorkers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera -Nashville