One year ago today, 17 ready-made garment (RMG) industry global brands and retailers and 2 global unions and their national RMG affiliates signed an unprecedented agreement to make RMG factories safe in Bangladesh. One year later, 172 global brands and retailers from Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia have joined the legally binding Accord. Together, they are building a safe garment industry in Bangladesh.
The work of the Accord is not complete until the RMG factories are safe. With its operations on the ground since mid-November 2013, the Accord has a full inspections program underway to identify fire, electrical, and building safety hazards at Accord brand producing factories. With more than 550 factories inspected, the program is well on its way to achieve its goal to have 1500 factories inspected by the end of September 2014.
“Independent, engineering-based inspections of this many factories in this amount of time is unparalleled as is the public disclosure of the reports and corrective active plans of the initial inspections”, explains Rob Wayss, Executive Director Bangladesh Operations. Hundreds more corrective action plans based on the completed Accord inspections are currently being finalized by factory owners, Accord brands, and worker representatives. These reports and corrective action plans will also be published on the Accord website in the next weeks.
The inspections are just the start. Over the coming months, the Accord will focus on making sure corrective safety measures are put in place, outreach and educational programs with industry and labour are intensified, and preparations are made for the election of genuine labour-management health and safety committees at each factory producing for Accord brands.
After one year, good and real progress has been made, but there is still a long way to go. The Accord shall continue to work in earnest and with purpose to meet the simple goals that were agreed to one year ago today: make and keep RMG factories safe; make the RMG industry in Bangladesh sustainable because it is productive and safe; and work to make sure that another building collapse or preventable factory fire is never witnessed again in Bangladesh RMG factories.