Details of the finalised Accord agreement to ensure safe conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh have been announced.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is a binding contract between around 70 top retailers and clothing brands, international and local trade unions and NGOs.
Companies that sign up to the agreement are committed to remove severe hazards facing workers and ensure improved conditions. Initial inspections to identify grave risks and any urgent repairs must be completed by April 2014.
The shake-up of safety standards comes after the death of 1,129 workers at the Rana Plaza in April. Factories in the building produced garments for brands and retailers including Primark, Matalan, Benetton, Mango and Bonmarche.
Those to have signed up to Accord agreement include M&S, Primark, H&M, Zara-owner Inditex, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein owner PVH, and Dutch retailer C&A. Details of all factory buildings used by the signatories will be collected by July 15.
Emergency protocol have been put in place while initial inspections take place to allow the Accord to order factory closures where risks are identified. Workers will also be informed of their right to refuse to enter a potentially unsafe building. Workers will also be paid while the factory remains closed.
Jyrki Raina, general secretary of trade union coalition IndustriAll, which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries, said: “Our mission is clear: to ensure the safety of all workers in the Bangladesh garment industry. The direct involvement of workers in the factories is key to the success of this programme.”
Ben Vanpeperstraete, from the Clean Clothes Campaign, which seeks improved working conditions in the global garment industry, said: “We welcome the strong commitment from brands to improving health and safety in Bangladeshi garment factories. [It] has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of Bangaldeshi garment workers.”