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New International Accord workplace safety program expands in Pakistan

Building on widespread safety improvements in Bangladesh, signatories to the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry are establishing a comprehensive workplace health and safety program for garments and textile suppliers in Pakistan. The International Safety Accord is renowned for its work in transforming the workplace safety system for millions of garment workers in Bangladesh.

Figure: International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry are establishing a comprehensive workplace health and safety program for garments and textile suppliers in Pakistan. Courtesy: GIZ

Earlier this year, it confirmed plans to make Pakistan its second country and it has now confirmed that it will be achieved next year following an agreement by its 187 signatory brands, workers’ representatives, government officials and factory owners in Pakistan.

The decision to expand the program to Pakistan was announced at a signatory brand caucus meeting held in Amsterdam on Wednesday (December 14). Brands will receive an information package on the Pakistan Accord and will be invited to sign on January 16, 2023, said a press release issued on Wednesday.

The Pakistan Accord includes all important international Accord features i.e., independent safety inspections to address identified fire, electrical, structural and boiler hazards, monitoring and support remediation, safety committee training and worker safety awareness programs, an independent complaints process, comprehensive transparency commitments, and local capacity building to foster a culture of health and safety in the industry.

“I am pleased to see the International Accord signatories reach an agreement to establish a WSP (workplace safety program) covering the signatories’ garment and textile suppliers in Pakistan. We are committed to working closely with Pakistani stakeholders to ensure our collective efforts are beneficial to the industry and its workers,” said Joris Oldenziel, Executive Director of the International Accord Foundation.

Bangladesh’s successful experience has inspired signatories to expand their workplace safety programs to at least one other textile and apparel-producing country. Pakistan has emerged as a priority country due to its importance as an apparel and textile sourcing country for the Accord brand.

“It has long been our goal to expand the successful model established in Bangladesh to other countries. With the Pakistan Accord, we will improve safety and save lives and increase our reach from the garment sector to home textiles and accessories. International retailers and brands that source from Pakistan who want to be committed to safety should sign up and take responsibility for the workers in their supply chains,” says UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman.

The International Accord has undertaken extensive engagement with federal ministries and provincial governments, industry associations, suppliers, trade unions and civil society organizations in Pakistan. The program aims to incrementally cover more than 500 factories producing for more than 100 Accord signatory companies across Sindh and Punjab provinces, where Pakistan’s $20 billion apparel and textile exports are generated annually.

The Pakistan Accord covers cut-make-trim (CMT) facilities, namely ready-made garments (RMG), home textiles, fabric and knit accessories suppliers (including vertically integrated facilities). Fabric mills within the supply chain of signatories are also covered, the implementation of which is scheduled for the next phase of the program.

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