IndustriALL Global Union records 60 global brands have already signed up to renew their commitment to bearing the costs of health and safety checks, including Adidas, Lidl and Primark. However, some top UK fashion and clothes retailers have not yet signed the deal to renew their commitment to factory safety in Bangladesh. John Lewis, M&S, Next, Debenhams and Sainsbury’s are yet to add their names to the list of brands committing themselves to Bangladesh’s latest laws on fire and building safety. The renewed agreement will see greater investment in health and safety checks come into effect this year as the original 2013 agreement is due to expire in May. A legally binding agreement was set up in 2013 where brands must share responsibility for the costs of improving health and safety in Bangladeshi factories. Bangladesh’s Accord on Fire and Building Safety was introduced after the devastating Rana Plaza factory fire which killed 1,135 workers and left over 2,500 people injured.
A spokesperson from John Lewis said the company is currently reviewing details of the new agreement before making a final decision ahead of the deadline. M&S reportedly said it is still “in discussion with stakeholders on Accord 2.0”, while Debenhams said it had “meetings in the diary” before May. A Next spokesperson said “If Next decides not to sign Accord 2 – it is confident that it already has a competent, directly employed code of practice team (and office) in place in Bangladesh, to manage safety in that region.” Sainsbury’s said it was actively involved in discussions and said it "applauded the progress that's been made by the Accord in Bangladesh.
Trade unions representing Bangladeshi textile workers reached a $2.3m (£1.6m) settlement earlier in January with an unnamed multinational fashion brand accused of delaying fixes to life-threatening hazards in factories. The UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union took two leading fashion brands to court in 2016 following the introduction of Bangladesh’s Accord on Fire and Building Safety in 2013.