The 2018 Bangladesh Accord will continue with factory safety improvements and ensure new problems are addressed

The 2018 Bangladesh Accord will continue with factory safety improvements and ensure new problems are addressed

Global unions have again renewed their calls for fashion brands to sign up to the new Bangladesh Accord for Building and Fire Safety, with less than a quarter of those in the current agreement so far committed.

IndustriAll and the Uni Global Union had hoped more brands would join the 2018 Accord by 7 October, the World Day for Decent Work, but they say many failed to do so. Of the more than 200 brands in the current Accord, around 46 have signed up so far, including Primark, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Inditex.

"The Accord has been a success improving safety at 1,800 garment factories, but until there is a reliable system of regulation in place in Bangladesh, we cannot be confident that all the good work of the past four years will not be undone," says Jenny Holdcroft, assistant general secretary of IndustriAll.

The original pact was launched following the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka, which killed more than 1,100 people in 2013. A new 2018 Accord was announced at the OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct in Paris on 29 June. Signatories so far also include Kmart Australia, Target Australia, C&A, Otto, KiK, Aldi South, Aldi North, Lidl, Tchibo, LC Waikiki, Helly Hansen, Adidas, PVH Corp and N Brown Group.

The three-year agreement aims to build on the achievements of the first Bangladesh Accord, which is set to expire in May 2018. Signatories say it will continue the with its legally binding framework and commitment to transparency, but adds new worker protections and ensures more factories will be inspected and renovated as signatory brands add suppliers.

While the first Accord covers ready-made garment facilities, the second agreement makes possible the inclusion of suppliers producing home textiles, yarn, cloth and other related products.

Currently, the 2013 Accord covers 2.5m workers in ready-made garment factories, and has completed fire and building safety inspections at 1,800 facilities supplying the signatory brands. Nearly 80% of workplace dangers discovered in the Accord's original round of inspections have been remediated, it says, and 500 factories have completed 90% or more of the necessary fixes.