Expert fire and building safety engineers have made working conditions in Bangladesh’s readymade garment factories safer. Reasonable health and safety measures were taken. The aim was to ensure workers need no longer fear fires, building collapses, or other accidents. Brands were made to take responsibility for making their supplier factories safe, and pay towards it too.
However, life-threatening hazards at supplier factories remain. Severe anti-union violence and discrimination continues in Bangladesh often making it impossible for workers to organise and bargain collectively. This is why more than 180 brands have signed the new 2018 Transition Accord, which covers approximately two million garment workers in Bangladesh, most of whom are women.
The 2018 accord has greater scope to cover home textiles and footwear and, crucially, gives more power to workers. The new agreement meets OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, recognising that workers are not peripheral to the due diligence process, but core to it. It upholds the importance of freedom of association in ensuring workers have a genuine say in protecting their own safety. It will also establish a training and complaints protocol to ensure that this right is respected.