My question comes just days after dozens of people were injured in a garment factory collapse and fire in Karachi, Pakistan – a country where the sign-on process for the International Accord factory safety initiative only started three months ago.
But factory collapses and fires are not limited to Bangladesh and Pakistan. At the end of 2022, two footwear factories in India caught fire in the space of a week.
So why are fashion brands and retailers still engaging factories that are unsafe? And why are we STILL fixated on the Rana Plaza disaster of ten years ago?
It’s unfortunate that when anyone talks of the Bangladesh apparel sector the first thing that comes to mind is Rana Plaza. Really, what we should be celebrating are the phenomenal improvements that have been made to the apparel manufacturing sector under the legally binding safety initiative The International Accord.
Factory improvements have included strengthening the structural integrity of factory buildings, the installation of fire doors, fire alarms, and enclosed staircases as well as addressing other occupational health and safety (OSH) issues like excessive working hours and gender-based violence and harassment through safety training at factories and a complaints mechanism for workers.
Its implementation has seen nearly 56,000 fire, electrical, and building safety inspections at over 2,400 garment factories. Over 140,000 safety issues at these factories have been resolved, contributing to safer working conditions for workers.
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These are big results. And the benefit to clothing brands and retailers is huge: they get to communicate to their consumers that they truly are selling goods produced ethically with a safe workforce. That is priceless. So why are safety initiatives like this still limited to Bangladesh and only-just Pakistan?
Campaign groups are now urging brands to sign on to the International Accord, which currently only has 194 signatories. It shouldn’t be like this. Brands and retailers have a moral responsibility to sell clothing they are certain has been produced in a safe environment.
It’s time to end the culture of selling goods that have been produced cheaply in environments where people are risking their lives every day.
Brands and retailers must be at the forefront of signing agreements that guarantee worker safety and chomping at the bit to get them implemented in other major fashion-producer countries because I do, strongly believe, a day will come when consumers will walk away from brands that cannot commit to worker safety.
Top stories from last week:
The International Accord has issued a statement of condolence after dozens of people were injured in a garment factory that collapsed and caught fire in Karachi, Pakistan on Friday.
Ahead of the tenth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, IndustriAll Global Union and UNI Global Union are urging fashion brands, including Levi Strauss, Gap, Walmart and Amazon to sign the fashion safety accord.
The University of Aberdeen’s Business School Professor Muhammad Azizul Islam, who has conducted research on apparel workers in Bangladesh, finds similarities between the way garment workers were treated during the pandemic and the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has teamed up with the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance (CBA) and luxury products group LVMH to tackle climate change in Central Africa and support sustainable cotton farming.
The global textile industry is facing a perfect storm scenario as production costs continue to climb and demand declines, a new report by the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) has found.
What does the US International Trade Commission (USITC)’s report on the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) reveal about its trade and economic impact on apparel, asks University of Delaware Fashion and Apparel Studies Associate Professor, Dr Sheng Lu.
NIKE has leveraged data from its Nike Run Club app to design Motiva, a new shoe based on the unique needs of people that walk, run and jog.
New data suggests events such as Covid-19 and the cost-of living-crisis, combined with sustainability concerns around fast fashion created a real shift in consumer buying habits within the luxury and fast fashion industry.
According to the “Textile Industry Data Book, 2023 – 2030,” published by Grand View Research, the global textile industry size reached US$1.7trn in 2022 and is expected to witness an upward growth trajectory due to the rising footprint of retail outlets and supermarkets.