Clean Clothes Campaign has again called for an expansion of the International Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry to Pakistan where it says safety incidents are “deadly”.
Launched this week, the campaign brief says that most safety incidents and violations in the Pakistan garment industry go unnoticed and are not mentioned in media, due to “lack of effective oversight and the sheer amount of such incidents”.
Clean Clothes Campaign says that its factory incidents tracker shows over three dozen incidents in Pakistan over the past twenty months in factories of both Accord signatory brands and brands that have not signed the Accord. The group says that most of the factory level issues could have been easily detected and remediated, had a programme like the legally binding International Accord already existed.
The safety programme came into being in 2013 in direct response to the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh.
“The factory incidents highlighted by the workers in Pakistan show how dire the need is for Accord expansion,” says Nasir Mansoor, general secretary of National Trade Union Federation in Pakistan. “Workers deserve to feel safe and protected when going to work, and the Accord should start its operations before the end of the year. The Pakistan Accord should protect workers in garment factories, in textile mills, and in informal small workplaces alike. We understand inspecting all units will take time, but all those workers should have the right to file complaints if they are in danger from the start of the programme.”
Steps towards initiating a Pakistan programme as part of the International Accord are well underway. However, Clean Clothes Campaign says two major hurdles remain to be taken. While plans are in an advanced stage, the actual decision when to officially launch the programme has not been overcome, and workers remain unaware of when they will be able to appeal to the programme’s protection.
And while there is consensus among stakeholders that this programme can not be an exact copy of that in Bangladesh, the parameters of the new programme still must be decided upon.
The brief by Clean Clothes Campaign stresses the need to “shape these parameters according to the needs of workers and their union representatives”.
A coalition of Pakistani unions and labour rights organisations has already formulated a vision of what they would need a Pakistan country programme to look like for it to be successful in their national context. This brief urges all stakeholders involved to “do justice to the needs of the Pakistani workers in the formulation of the programme’s content and in launching operations by the start of next year”.
Ineke Zeldenrust, international coordinator at Clean Clothes Campaign, says: “With due diligence legislation established in several European countries and under development in many more, brands can no longer afford to delay. They know harm is being done to workers in their supply chain, and every day the Accord programme is not yet operational is another day workers’ lives are at risk.”
The Accord did not return a request for comment at the time of going to press.