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Enforceability key to Bangladesh’s garment industry

After three years of creation of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, its current status and future challenges were discussed at a side event at the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva recently. Despite some unacceptable delays in remediation progress, the Accord is making significant headway according to representatives from both workers and brands.

With the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24, 2013, killing 1,134 and injuring thousands more, came an end to the tolerance of voluntary, non-transparent, non-enforceable factory inspections in Bangladesh.

Said Industrial general secretary, Jyrki Raina at the sidelines of the ILC that they will not accept anything less than a legally binding agreement to make Bangladesh’s garment industry safe and sustainable.

Scott Nova, executive director of US-based Workers Rights Consortium, said that the challenges in Bangladesh’s garment industry were not new and not unknown for brands and retailers. Both the Rana Plaza and Tazreen factories had been subjected to numerous voluntary inspections prior to the deadly disasters.

The difference lies in the enforceability of the Accord, which to date, has been signed by 217 brands. Swedish retailer H&M was one of the first brands to sign, and H&M senior advisor KG Fagerlin said that collaboration has been a key factor behind the changes the Accord has brought to the workers in Bangladesh