From September 5 to 11, Remake led a Week of Action, in partnership with the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF), a strong of 70,000 women garment makers in Bangladesh; the Labor Education Foundation; American Trade Union Workers United; Clean Clothes Campaign; and other labor rights organizations around the globe to call upon Levi Strauss and Company to sign the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, a life-saving, binding agreement for clothing companies.
The historic Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety was born after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, which killed 1,321 garment workers and injured many more. For eight years, this agreement ensured safety for millions of garment workers and healthier factory conditions in Bangladesh.
In 2021 after much campaigning, the Bangladesh Accord was renewed and expanded to what we now know as the International Accord, adding additional protections for the health and wellbeing of garment makers, alongside the agreement’s original measures of factory building inspections and worker safety.
Currently, over 170 major retailers have signed onto the International Accord, including Adidas, American Eagle, ASOS, Bestseller, Boohoo, C&A, Esprit, H&M, Inditex (Zara), Mango, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark, Puma, PVH (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger), and UNIQLO. Although the International Accord is a significant win for ethical fashion advocates, many major brands have yet to sign, including Levi Strauss & Company.
During our September Week of Action, in-person demonstrations were held at 18 Levi’s stores in seven countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, USA, Canada, Italy, and England.
As far as tactics, demonstrators inserted barcodes with information about the International Accord into the pockets at the stores, hand-delivered letters to store managers in 17 major cities (including London, Karachi, Florence, Milan, Mombai, New Delhi, Dhaka, Bangalore, San Francisco, Toronto, Kelowna, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, DC), and engaged with an email writing campaign to Levi’s Executive Board. Over 1,000 emails were sent by supporters to Levi’s Board of Directors and Executives during the Week of Action, including CEO Chip Bergh, Troy Alstead, Jill Beraud, Yael Garten, and COO Liz O’Neill. To date, over 2,700+ emails have been sent to the brand.
Despite the urging of several thousand activists and labor rights organizations, Levi’s did not yet agree to sign onto the International Accord, and instead responded by handing out a stock letter as a response to our Week of Action. The brand’s stock letter response to campaigners was littered with excuses and ultimately debunked by our team.
Although Levi’s has not yet signed the International Accord, there is still hope on the horizon. We know that the brand has heard the collective outcry from our campaigners, and the fight continues as we head into the busiest shopping seasons of the year.
Why Levi’s is a priority
Levi’s is one of the largest buyers in Bangladesh and Pakistan among companies that have yet to sign the International Accord. By signing the International Accord, Levi’s would extend health and safety to an estimated 25,000 of their garment workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Health and safety violations are widespread in Levi’s supply chain. A 2021 survey of 585 garment workers in 64 factories in Pakistan — in which Levi’s is a prominent buyer — found that:
- Almost 50% of workers are denied regular rest breaks, safe drinking water and clean bathrooms.
- 74% experience verbal abuse.
- 80% work in tiring, painful or awkward positions.
- 1 in 5 over 30 experience bone, joint or muscle problems.
- 65% of women workers say their job makes them feel miserable most or all of the time.
- 44% of women workers have experienced a workplace accident in the last year, including fainting, heat exhaustion, or suffocation.
- 1 in 10 women have noticed large cracks in the buildings where they work.
1) 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.
2) Print out pocket-sized barcode tags and slip them into jean pockets in Levi’s stores. Get the Barcode.
4) Publicly tag Levi’s on social media with any of the following sample tweets, or craft your own:
- 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?
- Hey @Levis — 1,132 garment makers died at Rana Plaza. How many more have to perish before you #SigntheAccord
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.
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.