Read the International Accord, Bangladesh Safety Program and Pakistan Accord Agreements

Updates on expansion

November 21, 2023

Highlights

  • Negotiations between representatives of global brands and trade union signatories to the International Accord have resulted in a new framework agreement. This agreement reaffirms their commitment to enhancing health and safety throughout the supply chains of the brand signatories.

  • Additionally, both the brands and trade unions finalised a new agreement to further their efforts in enhancing health and safety within the Bangladeshi garment industry through the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC).

  • The Pakistan Accord which was signed in January 2023 for a three-year period, will continue as an Addendum to the International Accord.

This post contains an overview of the agreements that form the basis of the Accord’s work in signatory supply chains in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and other countries in the future.

International Accord

The International Accord for Health and Safety in the Garment and Textile Industry (International Accord) is a legally binding framework agreement between garment brands and trade unions to ensure worker health and safety in the textile and garment industry. The agreement will serve as the framework for implementing the Accord’s Country-Specific Safety Programs (CSSPs), currently in Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as any future programs in other garment producing countries.

The terms of each CSSP will be laid out in the Addendums to the International Accord. The CSSP Addendums build on the core principles, standards and protocols outlined in the International Accord.

Read the International Accord

Bangladesh Safety Program

The Bangladesh Agreement on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry (Bangladesh Safety Program) is an Addendum to the International Accord.

The Bangladesh Safety Program is a legally binding agreement between garment brands and trade unions to ensure worker health and safety in the Bangladeshi textile and garment industry. The signatory parties to Bangladesh Safety Program commit to the principles enshrined in the 2023 International Accord, and as stipulated in the 2013, 2018 and the 2021 Accord agreements on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

The inspections and remediation program, safety committee and safety training program, safety complaints mechanism, and reporting and disclosure requirements of the Accord will continue to be implemented in Bangladesh by the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), which was established in June 2020.

More information about the origins, scope, key components, and  resources related to the health and safety program in Bangladesh can be found here.

Read the Bangladesh Safety Agreement

Pakistan Accord

In December 2022, Accord signatories agreed to establish a new workplace safety program in Pakistan for an initial term of 3 years, starting in 2023. The resulting agreement is called the Pakistan Accord on Health & Safety in the Textile & Garment Industry (Pakistan Accord) and outlines the envisaged program scope and key provisions to which company signatories commit to. The Pakistan Accord will continue as a CSSP Addendum under the International Accord.

The Pakistan Accord took effect on 1 January 2023 to ensure health and safety in the Pakistani textile and garment industry. Signatories to the Pakistan Accord are committed to fulfilling their obligations as outlined in this agreement until its expiration on 31 December 2025, with the possibility of renewal.

More information about the origins, scope, key components, and  resources related to the Pakistan Accord can be found here.

Read the Pakistan Accord

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First Safety Inspections Under the Pakistan Accord

Updates on expansion

November 20, 2023

The International Accord conducted the first round of initial inspections at factories supplying to Pakistan Accord brands in Lahore and Karachi between 16 – 28 October 2023. These initial inspections mark a significant milestone in the rollout of the Pakistan Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry (Pakistan Accord) that was established as a new country program under the International Accord in January 2023.

The team, comprising engineers from Arup and representatives from the International Accord, including Danielle Antonellis (Technical Advisor, Pakistan Accord), Brad Loewen (Technical Consultant & Former Chief Safety Inspector of the Bangladesh Accord), assessed fire, electrical and structural safety these supplier factories, based on the Pakistan Accord Building Standard. Zulfiqar Shah (Consultant, Pakistan Accord) and Veronique Camerer (Head of Policy & Accountability, International Accord) joined the team of engineers and conducted side meetings with a number of key local stakeholders.

Participating Factories

The inspections were conducted at four new facilities and four facilities that were part of the pilot safety assessments conducted between November and December 2022. These participating factories demonstrated commitment to ensuring workplace safety, receptiveness to feedback, and preparedness throughout the initial inspection process. These facilities included:  E&M Textiles, Mount Fuji Textiles Ltd., Kings Apparel Industries (Pvt) Ltd, Taiga Apparels, Denim Clothing Company, Fashion Knit Industries, Lucky Textile Mills Limited amongst others. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with these factories and their contribution to ensuring health and safety in the textile and garment industry.

Support from Brands

The Accord brands sourcing from these factories participated actively in the process by communicating their support for the Pakistan Accord and explaining the importance of their suppliers’ participation in the Accord program for continuing their business relationship. Multiple Accord brand representatives also participated in the inspections as observers.

The Inspection Process

Each factory inspection lasted between 1-2 days based on the size and number of buildings and included the following steps:

  1. Opening meeting with factory owner and technical staff: Introductions & interview with the factory owner
    • An overview of the Pakistan Accord program, the process towards developing inspection reports and corrective action plans.
    • Review of pre-inspection questionnaire and documentation, such as engineering drawings, Building Permits, calculations, material and systems tests and any reports from previous assessments
    • Scheduling & coordination of the fire alarm test
  2. Inspection of the building exterior and all interior rooms and spaces: 3 separate teams (fire, electrical, structural) inspected the building and assessed fire and building safety of all rooms and spaces.
  3. Testing: The teams carried out testing as required e.g., ferro-scanning (measuring rebar size in concrete structures), Schmidt Hammer test (measuring concrete strength), thermographic scanning (to identify electrical hotspots). The engineering team also requested the factory team to operate the fire alarm and fire pump systems.
  4. Closing meeting: Discussion between the Accord team and factory on main observations & next steps.

Next Steps

  • Inspection reports will be prepared by the engineers and shared with the factory and Accord brands in 4-6 weeks, varying by complexity.
  • Post-inspection meetings with the factories to discuss findings and remediation.
  • Development of Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) with the support of Accord brands.
  • CAP publication on the Accord website.

Background

Under the Pakistan Accord, all factories supplying to brand signatories will be inspected by independent engineers specialised in fire, structural, electrical, and boiler safety. These engineers assess the factories’ compliance with the Pakistan Accord Building Standard and produce reports of the safety hazards they identify at factories.

The scope of these safety inspections is as follows:

    • Fire safety: to assess the adequacy of fire prevention, fire containment, early warning systems, and safe egress in case of fire.
    • Structural safety: to assess the adequacy of engineering assessments, comparison of design drawings with the actual building, and adequacy of load management plans.
    • Electrical safety: to assess the adequacy of cabling and wiring in the factory, capacity of staff to maintain electrical safety, risk or occurrence of hotspots, and fire risk from accumulation of dust and lint around electrical components.
    • Hazardous Materials: to assess the use, storage, and handling of chemicals or substances that are classified as a physical hazard material or a health hazard material, whether the chemical or substance is in usable or waste condition.
    • Boiler safety: to assess the external and internal condition, installation configuration, and safety monitoring system of each boiler in the factory. Boiler inspections will begin once adequate local capacity to conduct such inspections is achieved.


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Highlights: The International Accord Secretariat and signatory brands visit Pakistan

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June 13, 2023

A delegation of the International Accord Secretariat and Accord signatory brands had a fruitful visit to Pakistan from 23 May to 3 June 2023.

The team attended a 3-day TEXPO hosted by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and engaged with a range of stakeholders including manufacturers, buyers, and international delegates.

Additionally, the ILO organised an event titled Textile and Ready-Made Garment Industry Forum on 25 May, where Joris Oldenziel, Executive Director of the International Accord was among the panelists. During the event, he highlighted the significance of the Pakistan Accord as a potential contributor to improving compliance with health and safety standards within the Pakistani textile and garment industry. He added that the Pakistan Accord could contribute to increasing exports and provide opportunities to attract buyers exploring markets with adequately monitored workplace safety conditions.

On the sidelines of the ILO forum and TEXPO, the International Accord team and representatives of Kik, Aldi, and Otto also had formal and informal meetings with key stakeholders including suppliers, industry associations sourcing agents, government departments, academia, fire and safety services and safety experts to discuss various aspects of the Pakistan Accord.

The International Accord appreciates the openness and commitment among Pakistani stakeholders to improving workplace safety through national and international initiatives and are encouraged by the assurances of further engagements to implement the Pakistan Accord. The Accord Secretariat will continue engaging and further strengthening the partnership with Pakistani stakeholders to improve the understanding of the Pakistan Accord.

60 international brands and retailers representing over USD 2 billion in export value have now signed the Pakistan Accord. These brands source from over 500 suppliers in Pakistan.

The Secretariat appreciates the efforts of the Pakistani Government, industry, social sector, and stakeholders including the ILO and GIZ aimed at contributing to enhancing the country’s sustainability performance in the global textile and garment sector. A big thank you to all those who welcomed the team and extended their warm hospitality.


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200 brands sign the International Accord to ensure worker safety in the garment industry

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May 29, 2023

200 global brands and retailers have now signed the International Accord since it took effect in September 2021.

A total of 200 brands and retailers have now signed the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry since it came into effect on September 1, 2021. These brands cover around 1700 factories and 1.8 million workers in Bangladesh. View the full list of International Accord signatories here.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the milestone of reaching 200 signatories and are inspired by the growing number of brands and retailers joining the International Accord, showing the widespread commitment to worker safety in the textile and garment industry. The Accord Secretariat looks forward to continuing our collaboration with all signatories as we strive towards creating a safer textile and garment industry,” said Joris Oldenziel, Executive Director of the International Accord Foundation.

The International Accord is a legally binding agreement between garment brands and global trade unions, IndustriALL Global Union, and UNI Global Union, with a mission to ensure safe workplaces in the textile and garment industry. The agreement promotes worker safety through independent inspections, remediation, and training programs and recognises the rights of workers to organise, refuse unsafe work and raise health and safety concerns. The International Accord enables the collective efforts of brands and retailers to ensure safe workplaces.

As we reach 200 signatories, we encourage more garment and textile brands to sign the International Accord and the Pakistan Accord to work collectively for a safer garment and textile industry.


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Over 50 global brands and retailers have signed the Pakistan Accord

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May 3, 2023

More than 50 global brands and retailers sign Pakistan Accord for Health and Safety in Textile and Garment Industry.

A total of 54 brands and retailers have thus far signed the Pakistan Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, with more expected to follow in the coming weeks. These brands source from approximately 500 factories in Pakistan, which collectively employ over 760,000 workers. Among the latest signatories are Hugo Boss, Solo Invest, Uhlsport, and Kmart Australia. You can view the full list of Pakistan Accord signatories here.

The Pakistan Accord has been open to signature by global brands and retailers since 16 January 2023. On January 23, 2023, members of the Accord Steering Committee, including BESTSELLER, C&A, H&M, Inditex, Otto Group, and PVH Corp., released a statement reaffirming their commitment to the Accord and encouraging more brands to join.

“We invite all brands around the world to sign the Pakistan Accord and join us in our collective commitment to raise safety standards at supplier factories in Pakistan,” the statement reads.

The Pakistan Accord is a legally binding agreement between IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, and garment brands and retailers for an initial term of three years, starting in 2023. The program will be implemented through close collaboration and involvement of the Pakistan government authorities and the manufacturing industry.

We reiterate our invitation to all brands and retailers sourcing from Pakistan to sign the Pakistan Accord and join our collective mission of a safe and sustainable Pakistani textile and garment industry.


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