In 2021, the enormously impactful Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building Safety was renewed and expanded into an International agreement. The Accord is a binding agreement that has extended life-saving workplace safety to 2.5 million garment workers to date. And will now be expanded to many more. And yet many global brands, like Levi’s, have yet to sign on to the new Accord! We need these brands to sign on so more workers are protected, and that is where you come in!!
HOW TO TAKE ACTION:
1) Flood Levi’s comments on Instagram and tell them to #SigntheAccord or Tweet at them. Here are some sample Tweets (but feel free to make your own):
- Hey @Levis — Four of your Pakistani garment workers died making your jeans in 2022. How many more have to perish before you #SigntheAccord
- Hey @Levis — Women shouldn’t risk their lives making your jeans. #SigntheAccord
- Hey @Levis — More than 175 brands have committed to protect progress and #SigntheAccord. Why won’t you?
You are also encouraged to create and share your own content about the Accord. When sharing about supporting the Accord, it’s very important to tag @Levis and use the #SigntheAccord hashtag.
3) Deliver a letter to a Levi’s store. You can head to a Levi’s brick and mortar location, ask for a manager, and hand them a copy of this letter with your name signed at the bottom. Get the Letter.
4) Print out pocket-sized barcode tags and slip them into jean pockets in Levi’s stores. Get the Barcode.
5) Organize a protest in your city! If you’re interested in taking this action, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
FAQs About the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety
What is the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (aka The Accord)?
The Accord (or Bangladesh Accord) is a groundbreaking agreement on workplace safety launched in the aftermath of the worst industrial accident in fashion history, the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster. The Accord has been hugely impactful, protecting the lives of 2.7 garment makers in 1,600 factories in Bangladesh through factory inspections, upgrades, and training, putting a stop to the cycle of fires, building collapses and other accidents that senselessly take garment makers’ lives. The Accord agreement was first signed in May of 2013 between unions and more than 200 global apparel brands, including H&M, Zara, American Eagle, PVH (parent company to Tommy Hilfiger), C&A, UNIQLO, Primark, and Adidas. The Accord first expired in 2018, but a successor Accord agreement was extended again until 2021. In August of 2021, the Accord was extended and expanded into the International Accord! Now, we are campaigning to ensure all major brands have signed onto the new agreement.
Was the Accord saved? Was it expanded?
Yes, thanks to international campaigning, in August of 2021 the Accord was extended and expanded into the International Accord! The Accord agreement will be extended to one other garment-producing nation, which has yet to be determined. To date (August 30, 2022) more than 175 brands have signed onto the new Accord.
Why target Levi’s?
Levi’s advertises itself as socially responsible and says taht its own safety program is sufficient. And yet in 2022, four garment workers that make denim for Levi’s died in a factory accident in Pakistan due to a poisonous gas leak that was preventable. According to worker testimony and research by Clean Clothes Campaign, Levi’s garment workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan routinely experience heat exhaustion to the point of fainting, serious injurious, and harassment. What’s more, Levi’s operates in factories that are covered by the Accord, freeriding off the Accord and the efforts and assurances of other brands. It acknowledges the effectiveness of the program without contributing anything to it.
ARE WE STILL TARGETING Abercrombie & Fitch and Skims?
While Abercrombie & Fitch and Skim are not currently the focus of campaigning, neither company has signed the Accord, so please keep up the pressure on them! Both of these brands produce clothing in Bangladesh and yet they’ve not done their part to ensure their workers’ safety by signing the Accord. These retail giants tout their social and environmental leadership but are lacking when it comes to protecting the women who made our clothes. Kim Kardashian’s shapewear line Skims is produced in one factory in Bangladesh, Cherry Intimates, which according to Mapped in Bangladesh, participates in the Accord program and yet Skims is not a signatory to the Accord. What this means is Skims is freeloading off the Accord program by not signing onto and contributing to it, taking advantage of the work and commitment of 170 other brands. Abercrombie & Fitch signed the original Accord, but unfortunately abandoned the agreement in 2018, despite still producing heavily in Bangladesh.
Should we be pressuring other companies to support the Accord?
Yes! If you want to pressure more brands, here is the full list of who has and has not signed the International Accord.
When and why was the Accord developed, and what is the Rana Plaza disaster?
On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed with thousands of people inside. At least 1,134 people died and thousands more were injured. It is the worst industrial disaster in the history of the fashion industry, and it came on the heels of several other deadly factory accidents, including the Tazreen and Ali Enterprises factory fires.
Disasters in the fashion industry are entirely preventable. Garment makers were forced back to work at Rana Plaza even though they knew the building was cracking and structurally unsound after they were threatened by management with lost wages. Brands has also audited the building within the prior months and deemed it safe, despite evidence to the contrary. Rana Plaza made it clear that the fashion industry needed a bold, systemic solution to unsafe working conditions in the form of a binding agreement. The Accord was signed within a month of this travesty. The result has been eight years of extraordinary progress, with the Worker Rights Consortium estimating that hundreds, quite possibly thousands, of lives have been saved.
What was the goal of the most recent Accord campaign to renew the agreement? What were the demands?
Remake and PayUp Fashion’s campaign goal was for these five brands (H&M, Zara, American Eagle, Tommy Hilfiger, and C&A) to publicly commit to sign on to extend and expand the Accord. We were also looking for brands to not only commit to a new Accord, but commit to the most important 3 components of a new agreement, namely:
Individual brand accountability
An independent secretariat to oversee the Accord
Expansion of the Accord model into other countries
All five of these companies signed onto the new International Accord in August of 2022, as did more than 175 brands. Here’s the full list.
What brands have committed to the International Accord?
As of May 3, 2022, the following 170+ brands have committed to the Accord. Keep up with the most updated list here.
- Adidas Group
- AEO Inc. (American Eagle and Aerie)
- Åhléns AB
- ALDI Einkauf SE & Co. oHG
- ALDI South
- America Today
- APG and Co
- Artsana (Chicco)
- BåstadGruppen (former Sandryds)
- Baumhueter International GmbH
- Bel&Bo Fabrimode NV
- Big W
- Boohoo group PLC
- Brandco Management
- Brands Fashion GmbH
- Brothers AB
- Chicca Body-Fashion GmbH & Co. KG
- Cotton On Group
- Country Road Group Pty Ltd
- David Jones Pty Ltd
- David Peyser, MV Sport/The Game
- Daytex Mode GmbH
- DELTEX Handelsgesellschaft mbH
- Distra Warenhandelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
- DK Company Vejle A/S
- El Corte Inglés
- Ernsting’s family GmbH & Co. KG
- Euro Shoe Group (Bristol)
- Face to Face
- Fanatics Apparel, LLC
- Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.
- Fat Face Ltd
- Florett Textil GmbH & Co. KG
- Forever New Clothing
- GALERIA Karstadt Kaufhof GmbH
- GEBRA Nonfood Handelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
- G.Gueldenpfennig GmbH
- Gina Tricot
- Hanesbrands (Knights Apparel LLC and Gear for Sports LLC)
- Heinrich Obermeyer GmbH & Co. KG (Blue Seven)
- Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M)
- HUGO BOSS AG
- Hunkemöller B.V
- ICA Sweden AB
- ID Rexholm A/S
- INTERSPORT AB
- JOGILO N.V.
- John Lewis
- Juritex Import-Export GmbH
- Kesko Corporation
- KiK Textilien
- Kmart Australia
- L. ten Cate
- Lidl (Gesellschaft und Umwelt International)
- Loblaw Companies Limited (Joe Fresh)
- Low Land Fashion International B.V.
- LPP S.A
- Mainpol GmbH
- Marks & Spencer
- METRO AG
- Miles/ Hanson Im- & Export
- Mitchell & Ness LLC
- MQ MARQET AB
- MS Mode
- NA-KD (Nakdcom One World AB)
- N Brown Group
- New Frontier GmbH
- New Look Retailers Ltd
- New Wave Group AB
- Nutmeg (Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc)
- OLYMP Bezner KG
- Orsay GmbH
- Otto Group
- Ouray Sportswear
- Outerstuff LLC
- OVS S.p.A.
- Padma Textiles Ltd.
- Peak Performance AB
- Perrin, Inc (New Agenda)
- Polarn O. Pyret AB
- Prénatal Moeder & Kind B.V
- Prénatal Retail Group
- Princess-Gruppen AS
- PWT Brands
- Reima Oy
- River Island
- s.Oliver Bernd Freier GmbH & Co. KG
- Salling Group
- Schijvens Corporate Fashion
- Schmidt Group GmbH
- Seidensticker Group
- SOLO INVEST SAS
- Stadium AB
- Stockmann Group/Lindex
- Suprema Strick- und Wirkwarenfabrik GmbH
- Sussan Group
- T. Kwaspen BV
- Takko Holding GmbH
- Tally Weijl AG
- TCC Global N.V.
- Tchibo GmbH
- Tex Alliance
- Texsport B.V.
- The Sting B.V.
- The Very Group
- Tokmanni Oy
- Top Grade Int.
- Trademark Textile A/S
- Tricorp Workwear
- Triumph & Sloggi
- TVM Europe
- Uscape Apparel
- VAN DER ERVE
- Varner Group
- VDR Fashion Group B.V.
- Voice Norge
- WE EUROPE BV
- Wibra Supermarkt B.V.
- Workwear Group
- W Republic Apparel
- Wuensche Group
- Y’Organic BV
- Zalando SE
- Zeeman textielSupers B.V.
- Zephyr (Lakeshirts Zephyr LLC)
What other organizations support the Accord?
The Accord has broad international support. In addition to global labor rights organizations like the Clean Clothes Campaign, which has led the #ProtectProgress campaign for years, global unions industriALL and UNI Global Union support The Accord, as do local unions and factory-level worker groups in Bangladesh representing hundreds of thousands of workers, including Awaj Foundation and Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity. Even politicians support the Accord: Recently Agnes Jongerius, a Member of European Parliament for the Netherlands (S&D), issued a strong statement in support of extending and expanding the Agreement.
how does the Accord Keep Garment Makers Safe?
The Accord is extremely effective at protecting workers’ lives and well-being for a few key reasons. Most importantly, the Accord is legally binding (meaning it has a contract behind it obligating its participants to fulfill their responsibilities) and it’s enforceable against individual brands, meaning brands can be held responsible if they don’t follow through. It has teeth and real consequences for brands that don’t comply with its conditions to help upgrade factories and make them safe. Under the Accord contract, brands can even be sued in court by unions if they break their promises. In fact, several brands have been sued since the Accord’s inception to remedy life-threatening workplace hazards. Voluntary initiatives have in the past been unable to prevent mass casualties in apparel factories, and the Accord by contrast proved what’s possible with a contract between brands, unions, and suppliers.
What has the Accord achieved?
It’s important to celebrate the dramatic progress made by the Accord. The initial inspection of Bangladesh’s factories back in 2013 found more than 87,000 safety issues, including more than 50 factories that were at immediate risk of collapsing. By 2018, the vast majority, 85% of all the original hazards identified had been eliminated. Today, more than 90% have been eliminated. It’s estimated that hundreds, if not thousands of lives, have been saved in Bangladesh by the Accord. In order to expand the Accord to other countries, the agreement needs to remain in place.
The Accord covers 1,687 factories, providing building and fire safety inspections, remediation and training
More than 38,000 initial and follow-up inspections have been conducted for fire, electrical and structural safety
More than 90% of factories found to have safety problems have remediated those problems. That amounts to 1,260 factories.
When did the original Accord expire? How and why was it extended again?
The original Accord was a five-year agreement that expired in 2018. At that time, a three-year extension was signed by more than 100 of the original signatories, and that agreement was set to expire on May 31, 2021. Three days before the expiration, the Accord signatories announced they would continue to negotiate a new agreement for three more months. Advocates and consumers pressed brands to sign on and on August 25, 2021, a strong new International agreement was reached.
Why should the Accord continue? Aren’t factories safe now?
Without the Accord, brands will no longer be responsible for addressing safety hazards in factories where our clothes are made. We risk the occurrence of another Rana Plaza factory collapse, and perhaps most importantly we will miss the opportunity to expand the Accord to more garment makers, including those in India and Pakistan.
What’s more, the work is not done. A recent report by the Clean Clothes Campaign showed that significant safety issues, including blocked exits and missing sprinkler systems, remain in some factories in Bangladesh making clothes for major brands, including H&M, Bestseller, C&A, Joe Fresh, and PVH, among others. What’s more, the Accord is effective. That alone is a reason to keep its life-saving safety measures in place and protect progress.
Extending the Accord ensures its expansion into other garment-producing nations. Unsafe working conditions continue to kill garment workers in other countries. Recent workplace tragedies in North Africa, including 28 workers killed by electrocution in an illegal garment factory in Morocco in February 2021, 20 workers killed in a fire at a garment factory in Egypt in March 2021, and 8 people killed in a collapse later that month in the same country show the urgent need for brands to commit to not only extend but expand the Accord to other nations.
Why are some brands resistant to continuing the Accord?
Some but not all apparel brands do not want to be held legally accountable or financially responsible for keeping their garment makers safe. They hope to replace the Accord with a safety plan that is not legally enforceable on them. We don’t believe that they will keep their promises if they can’t be brought to court individually, as their factory audits, voluntary initiatives and empty promises failed to prevent Rana Plaza before.
I have more questions and I want to know more. Where can I get answers?
The Clean Clothes Campaign, a witness signatory to the Accord, has an extensive Q&A on the Accord available here.
The campaign website RanaPlazaNeverAgain.org also has Action Kits, FAQs and a petition that goes to a number of brands asking them to protect progress.
Quotes & Testimonials About the Accord
Please use these quotes on social media; just make sure to give proper credit to the speaker! You can cut them down to a shorter length if you need to, but please try not to change the intention of the speaker.
“I firmly believe that if the accord stays, then we will not have to die in fire accidents and building collapses.” – Ronjona Aktar Hashi, Bangladeshi garment worker at the Alliance Knit Composite factory
“Eight years ago, the Accord was established for good reasons, to protect workers against dangerous working conditions and to put their safety first.” — Agnes Jongerius, a Member of European Parliament for the Netherlands (S&D)
“The Accord saves lives. Why on Earth would we walk away from something that works so effectively to keep garment makers safe?” — Elizabeth L. Cline, journalist and author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
“The one thing I’ve experienced after the Accord started working here is that our workers have a voice now. If there’s a crack in the building they can say “no” to the factory managers, I will not come back until you fix it.” – Kalpona Akter, founder and executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity
“Because of the Accord, the work environment has improved very much. Before there would be sacks lying here and there in the aisles, there would be three machines instead of one. There was no way out. We would have to jump over one another to make our escape. Now the aisles are clear, the workspace is clean. Now we are working in a safer environment” – Parvin Akter, Assistant Secretary of Workers Union at Ananta Apparel
“Binding obligations for companies work much better than voluntary promises. As a result of that process [of the Accord], we now have vastly safer factories in Bangladesh.” – Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium
“Bangladesh has experienced one of the most effective campaigns of the globalized era to improve labor and safety conditions.” — Lizzie Patton, The New York Times
“We can talk freely to Accord officials. When we file complaints to Accord officials, they respond very promptly. They don’t get easily convinced by the statements of the factory management. They regularly check compliance issues during factory inspections. We strongly believe that the Accord should stay and operate in Bangladesh.” — Mim Akter, garment worker and union leader, Dress and Dismatic factory, Bangladesh
“The Accord is a landmark agreement because it is a binding agreement. It’s not like the empty promises brands have been making to workers about their safety for years. That alone speaks volumes. ” – Kalpona Akter, founder and executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity
“We need brands to sign on the international Accord and continue to protect progress that has been made in our country. ” – Kalpona Akter, founder and executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity
“Brands and retailers must make sure that an incident like Rana Plaza can not happen again, here in Bangladesh, or in any other production country. Our workers’ lives are important.” – Kalpona Akter, founder and executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity
“If we had had the Accord before, we could have saved all those lives that were lost in the Rana Plaza collapse.” – Kalpona Akter, founder and executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity
Sign the petition at RanaPlazaNeverAgain: www.RanaPlazaNeverAgain.org
Videos to Share and Watch:
Please feel free to post these videos on social media with credit and attribution.
- Never Forget Rana Plaza. Credit: Remake
- Rana Plaza & Tazreen Survivors Speak. Credit: Remake
- Why the Accord is important. A worker explains. Credit: Clean Clothes Campaign
- How to change the garment industry? Bangladesh Accord. Credit: Clean Clothes Campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnPesU_yPgw
- Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Credit: Worker Rights Consortium.
Additional accounts to Follow for Accord Updates: