Accord on Fire and Building Safety

published 03-10-2013 14:16, last modified 10-10-2013 14:11
After exposure in the media for lack of workers' safety at their Bangladeshi suppliers, the owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein signed a binding Safety Agreement with Bangladeshi and international labour organisations in March 2012. In August 2012 German retailer Tchibo was the second company to sign this agreement.
“The fact that so many brands have signed the Safety Accord will bring historic change in the Bangladeshi industry. However, it is a shame that Gap and Walmart have not yet signed the Accord. We strongly encourage them to reconsider their position.
It is not too late for brands to sign the Accord, which will mean workers no longer have to fear for their lives each time they enter their factory.”

Ineke Zeldenrust, Clean Clothes Campaign

Fire and building safety is absolutely critical for Bangladeshi garment workers. The Clean Clothes Campaign, together with Bangladeshi and international labour organisations, has been working on safety in Bangladesh for many years, and the national European Clean Clothes Campaign groups have done a lot of outreach work to European brands with production facilities in Bangladesh. The landmark agreement reached with PVH, the owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, has been expanded into the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Five company signatories were needed to implement the agreement. After the horrific fires in late 2012, and especially after the devastating collapse at the beginning of 2013, more brands were willing to sign the agreement.

The Accord is an independent agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces, and is being implemented as of July 2013. This includes independent inspections by trained fire safety experts, public reporting, mandatory repairs and renovations financed by brands, a central role for workers and unions in oversight and implementation, supplier contracts with sufficient financing and adequate pricing, and a binding contract to make these commitments enforceable.

Collapse.pngAfter the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza in April 2013, costing the lives of over 1,100 workers, more than 80 international brands have signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

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What do companies and Multi Stakeholder Initiaves think of the CCC? *

“CCC has been one of the defining influences on code of conduct over the last 10 years. Codes of conduct have moved from being a fringe idea to a central plank of single CSR policy in the industry. A large part of that is because CCC internationally have been a champion for the role of brands taking action... and have placed and kept the issue in the public domain.”

“CCC have had impact by raising our awareness, triggering the development of our code of conduct and our subsequent mechanisms on monitoring, disclosure practises, decision to join MSI, training and follow-up.”

“If there is a critical situation in a factory that we have not become aware of ourselves, we do of course react immediately, if this is brought to our attention by CCC.”

“All activities raise awareness but do not change policies, urgent appeals have most impact to improve or change the way of working with a supplier or improve a situation if needed.”

* Quotes from internal report that assesses how Clean Clothes Campaign's labour rights corporate accountability work, including the Urgent Appeal system, has impacted corporate behavior between 1994 and 2010.

Pins Brown, 2010. Impact Assessment of Corporate Accountability Activities of Clean Clothes Campaign. Unpublished report on file.