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‘Transition Accord’ goes into effect without major bands

The new Bangladesh worker safety pact, known as the Transition Accord, has fallen short of its goal of retaining 100% of the signatories from the initial agreement, reported Reuters.

The original agreement was 220 companies and about 175 of them have signed, but high-profile brands including Abercrombie & Fitch, Combs’ Sean John apparel, and Britain’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill have not signed, the Clean Clothes Campaign said.

Transition Accord’
Figure: The new Bangladesh ‘2018 Accord’ known as the ‘Transition Accord’ went into effect without some major brands like Abercrombie & Fitch.

Abercrombie said that it was reviewing the 2018 accord, while IKEA said it had chosen to focus on its own safety audit program IWAY rather than signing up.

Unlike the original accord, which expired on 31 May, the new one is open to non-garment companies like IKEA that produce home fabrics and textiles. Campaigners have urged them to sign up, arguing that other schemes such as IWAY lack transparency because they do not make inspection findings and reports public.

“We operate on a highly competitive market, and for competitive reasons we don’t hand out a list of our suppliers in Bangladesh or any other country,” IKEA told the Reuters.

IKEA too has refused to sign the new agreement, which is now open to factories producing home textiles, fabric, and knit accessories. Instead, the home furnishing giant relies on its IKEA Way code of conduct.

Clean Clothes counters that this is insufficient, saying “The Accord offers to the only road towards safer factories in a country in which voluntary corporate social auditing systems have in the past failed to prevent the thousands of deaths of the Rana Plaza and Tazreen factory catastrophes. In response to that, the Accord is a collective scheme, which is a legally binding agreement between a great number of brands and trade unions and contains extensive enforcement mechanisms.”

The group also pointed out Walmart, Gap and VF Corporation for their lack of support for any Accord efforts dating back over the five years.

Christie Miedema, campaign and public outreach coordinator for Clean Clothes, said “IKEA, Abercrombie, VF Corporation and any other company that has thus far refrained from joining the Accord are doing themselves and their customers a disservice and are knowingly putting the lives of the workers producing for them at risk by sticking to opaque systems that so woefully failed in the past.”

Established following the deadly Rana Plaza factory disaster in 2013, the Accord was a five-year agreement between brands and labor unions designed to improve garment industry safety standards that ended on 31 May. Following the factory collapse that killed more than a thousand workers, the Accord was established to inspect and remediate factories in Bangladesh.

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