Brands such as Primark, Next, and JD Sports are yet to sign up to a new agreement aimed to protect Bangladeshi garment workers.
Almost 80 companies, including Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Asos, H&M, Zara’s owner Inditex, and New Look, have backed the legally binding agreement, which replaces one signed by more than 200 international fashion companies in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, which killed over 1,100 people.
Primark, which spent millions of pounds in compensation to victims of Rana Plaza, where one of its suppliers was located, stated that it wanted to sign and was evaluating the legal documentation.
“We are glad that the discussions for the new agreement have now concluded,” the statement continued.
Under the initial deal, the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, brands and factories faced legal action if their health and safety standards were deemed to be deficient or if problems were not addressed within an agreed-upon time frame. Since 2013, over 38,000 inspections have been conducted, and nearly 200 factories have lost contracts due to low safety standards.
This agreement, reached with the international garment workers’ unions UNI Global and IndustriALL, expired on Tuesday.
Some UK brands only signed up to the new deal, the international accord for health and safety in the garment and textile industry, in the last 24 hours. Negotiations have been lengthy with union leaders expressing concerns that the legally binding element was under threat. Some brands also held back because of demands to extend the agreement into other countries beyond Bangladesh.
Global retailers and brands have signed an international accord to shore up their commitment to factory safety in Bangladesh. The accord also commits them to establish enforceable and transparent health and safety programmes in at least one other garment-producing country. The agreement is managed by the Ready-Made Garments Sustainability Council (RSC) and is valid until 2023.
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