British brands have yet to sign an agreement on safety for Bangladesh textile workers | Retail business
Brands such as Primark, Next and JD Sports have yet to sign a new agreement designed to protect garment workers in Bangladesh.
Nearly 80 companies, including Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Asos, H&M, the owner of Zara, Inditex and New Look, have backed the legally binding agreement, which replaces the one signed by more than 200 international fashion companies after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in 2013, killing over 1,100 people.
Primark, which has paid millions of pounds in compensation to victims at Rana Plaza, where one of its suppliers was based, said it intends to sign and is reviewing legal documents. “We are happy that the negotiations for the new agreement are now completed,” he added.
Under the original agreement, the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, brands and factories were subject to legal action if their health and safety standards were lacking or not addressed. not the problems within an agreed timeframe. More than 38,000 inspections have been carried out since 2013 and nearly 200 factories have lost their contracts due to poor safety standards.
The agreement, which was reached with the international garment workers’ unions UNI Global and IndustriALL, expired on Tuesday.
Some UK brands have only signed the new agreement, the international agreement on health and safety in the clothing and textile industry, in the past 24 hours. Negotiations were protracted, with union leaders expressing fears that the legally binding element was threatened and that the improvements made to conditions, wages and security since 2013 were jeopardized. Some brands have also withheld due to union demands to extend the deal to other countries beyond Bangladesh.
Christy Hoffman, Secretary General of UNI Global Union, said, “Today marks an important milestone for workers in the global garment industry. By signing the international agreement, brands and retailers are strengthening their commitment to safety in factories in Bangladesh and also agree to establish enforceable and transparent health and safety programs, essential in at least one other producing country. clothing.
“We are delighted that so many global retailers and brands have signed the international agreement and in doing so, take responsibility for the safety of garment workers in their supply chains. We look forward to welcoming other signatories to the international agreement as soon as possible. “
The new agreement, which is managed by the Ready-Made Garments Sustainability Council (RSC), is valid until October 2023. More brands are expected to sign up in the weeks and months to come.
Companies that commit commit to extending general worker health and safety beyond fire and building safety, human rights due diligence along supply chains and to make the same commitment to garment workers in at least one other country.
The signatories agreed to meet in six months to discuss which countries, with the aim of making changes within two years.
Next and JD Sports did not respond to a request for comment at the time of posting.