The Accord was set up and signed by multiple retailers and brands to avoid being labeled in the international press as an unethical brand or retailer. Yet this was only ever a window dressing designed to divert the end consumer from the retail and brands own obligations that they have historically and continuously ignored.
If these same brands and retailers wish to become truly ethical and not just present and sell themselves as being one then the brands and retailers using Accord to hide behind and demanding its continuation whilst still practicing unethical buying techniques and methods should be ashamed and stop trying to claim moral high ground!
Accord have unfortunately tarnished their reputation with the issue being that accord only ever inspected and commented on factories and manufacturers whom export directly. These are the same manufacturers and suppliers that already have to undergo multiple 3rd party inspections each and every year in order to pass stringent customer requirements.
The Accord does not negate this and these same suppliers now have to abide both by customer and Accord requirements, not a bad thing on its own. However, all the factories that pick-up work locally in many instances from the same exporters mentioned above, have no third-party audits and no Accord control.
Therefore, with zero oversight or external independent controls are often the units that have poor practices and bad health and safety practices. Yet Accord has no care about these very same units whilst professing to only have the workers safety at the heart of what they do?
How can it be that those at the highest risk are ignored as not being their concern yet those at least risk are allegedly provided further protection? What garment is it that they make if not for export?
Does Accord or its signatories honestly believe that these units are only manufacturing for the local market or those outside of the signatory? This could only ever be selective ignorance in that they are choosing to ignore the sad realities to their own benefit!
Accord has unfortunately now become a self-serving/generating organization focused on its own continued existence rather than the real fallacies in the supply chain, forced to find its own reasons for survival and for it to be maintained on an ongoing basis.
Therefore safeguarding all those employed there it has resorted to reviewing the very same factories that last year it deemed safe and promoted with certification as being good and is now finding yet more lists of ‘potential issues’ whilst nothing in those factories has changed from previous inspections. Its own commercial push and highlighting through news channels as to its ‘required’ existence is proof enough that its priorities are its own continuation rather than addressing the real issues within the supply chain, namely customer unethical sourcing policies coupled with driving down of costs to the levels that pressurizes suppliers to consider subcontracting at reduced costs.
Why has not one singular instance of this been highlighted during Accords existence to date? Do they and the supporting brands and retailers expect us to all believe that this isn’t the sad reality?
Advertising to all customers its effectiveness by circulating all issues however big or small to anyone that wishes to be on copy, its transparency of those it monitors is excellent, yet it doesn’t hold itself to its own standards and fails to publicize its own failings.
How many supply chain unethical practices is it promoting in failing to highlight a single instance of this practice being found?
The whole Accord project is now in peril of becoming nothing more than a glorified, customer sanctioned organized union with its own ongoing survival at its core rather than its duty to protect.
On this basis the government with the aid of the local textile organization is more capable and able of delivering meaningful change into the textile and apparel supply chain than Accord. Whilst no one can argue that Accord hasn’t had any successes, its own inability to challenge those financing it, should alone be an argument for its reform or replacement.
If it ever really truly cared for the workers and their situation then it is time it addresses those trapped by the brands and retailers into the lower echelons of the supply chain and not those at the top that have been noticeably compliant anyway nor continue to support the brands and retailers to hide the biggest issues within the supply chain.
Disclaimer: All the views expressed by the writer is his own. It doesn’t represent the views of Textile Today and its associates, Textile Today has no responsibility.