International Accord at the 4th UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights

Updates on programs in Pakistan

March 22, 2023

The International Accord participated in the 4th UN South Asia Forum on Business and Human Rights organised by UNDP Business and Human Rights Asia from 20-22 March 2023 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The forum brought together key stakeholders including governments, trade unions, civil society, businesses, UN agencies, and development partners that discussed over a dozen topics relevant to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) during the three-day deliberations.

International Accord participated in the plenary From Tragedy to Progress: Lessons from the Rana Plaza Building Collapse that analyzed the progress and highlighted the continued need to prioritize worker safety in the textile and garment industry. The session was moderated by Prof Pichamon Yeophantong, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and included insights from Shamim Ehsan (BKMEA), Mahruna Islam (UNDP) Kalpona Akter, Bangladesh Center for Workers’ Solidarity, and Zulfiqar Shah, Pakistan Consultant, International Accord.

The key discussion points included:

  • The contributions of the Accord in building a safer Bangladeshi garment industry.
  • The importance of awareness, trust, and collaboration in ensuring human rights in business.
  • The crucial role of stakeholder engagement, particularly the participation of local industry and government, in any new Accord country programs.
  • The opportunities in replicating the Accord model in other major garment-producing countries.
  • The benefits of legally binding agreements in ensuring transparency and accountability in garment supply chains.

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35 global brands and retailers have now signed the Pakistan Accord

Updates on programs in Pakistan

February 23, 2023

35 signatories to the International Accord have signed the Pakistan Accord to ensure worker safety in the country’s textile and garment industry.

A total of 35 signatories to the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry have signed the recently announced Pakistan Accord to date, with multiple brands finalising internal details and expected to sign in the coming weeks. The Pakistan Accord is a legally binding agreement between global unions, IndustriALL and UNI Global Union, and garment brands and retailers for an initial term of three years starting in 2023.

The factory listing of these brands would cover approximately 300-400 facilities in Pakistan. The program in Pakistan will retain key features from the 2021 International Accord: independent safety inspections to address identified fire, electrical, structural and boiler hazards, monitor and support remediation, Safety Committee training and worker safety awareness program, an independent complaints mechanism, a commitment to transparency, and local capacity-building to enhance a culture of health and safety in the industry.

“We are excited that many major brands and retailers have already confirmed their commitment to working together with their suppliers in a collective effort to further enhance workplace safety in Pakistan. We are convinced the Pakistan Accord can benefit the industry and its workers and promote sustainable and long-term business relationships between brands and their Pakistani suppliers. We look forward to seeing more brands join in the coming days and weeks,” said Joris Oldenziel, Executive Director, International Accord Secretariat.

On January 23, 2023, Accord Steering Committee members brands BESTSELLER, C&A, H&M, Inditex, Otto Group, and PVH Corp. released a statement reaffirming their commitment to the Pakistan Accord and encouraging more brands to sign the agreement.

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


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OECD side session: Expansion of the International Accord to Pakistan

Updates on programs in Pakistan

February 17, 2023

Event

The OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector was held online and offline (Paris, France) from 13-17 February 2023. The OECD forum brought together representatives from government, business, trade unions, and civil society to promote transparency and due diligence in global garment supply chains.

The International Accord organised a virtual side session as part of this forum on 13 February to discuss the challenges & opportunities for the recently launched Pakistan Accord. Around 110 participants across academia, media, government, industry associations and clothing brands joined this session.

Moderated by Joris Oldenziel, Executive Director of the International Accord, the session featured a distinguished panel of speakers who shared their perspectives on how best to implement the Pakistan Accord, so it works for and benefits everyone. The speakers reflected on the workplace safety program in Bangladesh and discussed how its learnings can be best adapted and applied to the Pakistan Accord.

Highlighting the key impact of the Accord on the Bangladeshi textile and garment industry, Masarrat Quader, H&M Group, and member of the Accord Steering Committee, shared that the safety assessments and trainings at nearly 1200 garment factories covered by the Accord have contributed to making Bangladesh one of the safest sourcing destinations in the world and have promoted responsible business conduct throughout the brands’ supply chains.

Christina Hajagos Clausen, IndustriALL Global Union and member of the International Accord Steering Committee, added that the Accord has put workers and industrial relations at the centre of the global conversation on a safer garment sector. She added that the Accord’s transparency mechanisms introduced in Bangladesh have encouraged more global brands and retailers to be open about their supplier lists, auditing reports and remediation plans. Furthermore, she underlined the critical role of the Accord complaints mechanism in ensuring workers have a way to raise concerns and safeguard their own health and safety at work.

Usman Rasheed, Taiga Apparel (Pvt.) Ltd (Pakistan), emphasised that instilling a culture of workplace safety, a trained workforce, and robust buyer-supplier relationships would be central to building a safer textile and garment industry in Pakistan.

Contextualising his experience with the Accord, Mohammed Sohel, Managing Director at Bangla Poshak Limited (Accord-covered factory) shared that the health and safety improvements made under and with the support of the workplace programs have contributed to doubling his factory’s turnover from $5 million to $10 million since 2013. He also highlighted the initial challenges faced by factories in Bangladesh and the importance of ensuring clear communication on safety requirements and financial support for remediation under the Pakistan Accord.

Bushra Baten, PVH Corp. (Bangladesh and Pakistan) underscored the shift in perspective on workplace health and safety as the biggest achievement of the Accord in Bangladesh. Her recommendations on the Accord implementation in Pakistan included open dialogue and consistent engagement with local stakeholders at every stage.

Kaschif Israr, Euro Centra (Pakistan), emphasised that health & safety improvement is an important mission for the industry and reiterated the need for proactive engagement with the Pakistani industry and creating open dialogue with factory owners to address their questions and bring all factories along on the journey.

We thank the panel for sharing their experience and insights on wide-ranging topics and look forward to continuing our engagement in the coming days.

The recorded session can be viewed here.


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Accord Steering Committee member brands affirm their commitment to Pakistan Accord

Updates on programs in Pakistan

January 23, 2023

Accord Steering Committee member brands affirm their commitment to the workplace safety program in Pakistan, in close collaboration with their Pakistani suppliers and other stakeholders. 

The International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry is an agreement between 190 global brands and retailers and 2 global union federations. Collectively, the Accord signatory brands source over $2.6 billion worth of garments and textiles from Pakistan. The undersigned brands, BESTSELLER, C&A, H&M, Inditex, Otto Group, and PVH Corp. represent Accord signatory brands on the Board of the International Accord.

Statement

The International Accord is preparing for continued engagement with Pakistani stakeholders in the coming weeks, as we take steps towards the establishment of a Pakistan Accord office and the commencement of programs.

We, together with our Accord brands’ colleagues, are committed to supporting our suppliers in meeting the highest safety standards. This includes efforts to establish local governance structures that ensure industry and local brand and union participation in decision-making in every phase of the program.

The International Accord aims to protect the health and safety of millions of workers while helping the industry achieve sustainable growth in exports. With the signing of the Pakistan Accord and our brands’ commitment to this new safety program, we are renewing our commitment to a long-term sourcing relationship with Pakistan.

The Pakistan Accord provides an opportunity both to increase the visibility of the efforts already made by many manufacturers to invest in fire and building safety measures in recent years and deepen and expand them throughout Pakistan’s garment and textile sector, making it an increasingly attractive option for buyers across the globe.

We encourage all brands around the world to sign the Pakistan Accord agreement and join us in our collective commitment to raise the safety standards at supplier factories in Pakistan.

Accord Steering Committee Member Brands,

BESTSELLER, C&A, H&M, Inditex, Otto Group, and PVH Corp.


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New International Accord workplace safety program in Pakistan

Updates on programs in Pakistan

December 14, 2022
Download announcement (PDF)

Announcement

Amsterdam, 14 December 2022:

Signatories to the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry are establishing a comprehensive workplace health and safety program in Pakistan covering signatories’ garment and textile suppliers. The new Pakistan Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry is a legally binding agreement between global unions, IndustriALL and UNI Global Union, and garment brands and retailers for an initial term of three years starting in 2023.

Building on widespread safety improvements in Bangladesh, the Pakistan Accord includes all key International Accord features: independent safety inspections to address identified fire, electrical, structural and boiler hazards, monitoring and supporting remediation, Safety Committee training and worker safety awareness program, an independent complaints mechanism, a commitment to broad transparency, and local capacity-building to enhance a culture of health and safety in the industry.

“I am pleased to see the International Accord signatories reach agreement to establish a workplace safety program covering the signatories’ garment and textile suppliers in Pakistan. We are committed to working closely with Pakistani stakeholders to ensure our collective efforts are beneficial to the industry and its workers,” said Joris Oldenziel, Executive Director, International Accord Foundation.

The successful experience in Bangladesh prompted the signatories to expand the workplace safety program to at least one other textile and garment-producing country.

Through signatory surveys, extensive research, and local stakeholder consultations, the Accord Secretariat assessed the feasibility of expanding based on key factors. Pakistan emerged as a priority country, in part because of its importance as a garment and textile sourcing country for the Accord brands.

The International Accord has undertaken extensive engagement in Pakistan with federal ministries and provincial governments, industry associations, suppliers, trade unions and civil society organisations. The Pakistan Accord programs will be implemented in phases, in close collaboration with these key stakeholders and through the establishment of a national governance body.

Scope

The Pakistan Accord covers Cut-Make-Trim (CMT) facilities, namely Ready-Made Garment (RMG), home textile, fabric and knit accessories suppliers (including vertically integrated facilities).

Fabric mills within the supply chains of the signatories are also covered, with implementation scheduled for a later stage in the program. The program aims to incrementally cover more than 500 factories producing for more than 100 Accord signatory companies throughout the Sindh and Punjab provinces, where most of Pakistan’s $20 billion in garment and textile exports are manufactured annually.

The decision to expand to Pakistan was announced during a signatory brand caucus meeting held on 14 December 2022. Brands will receive an information package on the Pakistan Accord and will be invited to sign from 16 January 2023.

Download the full text of the Pakistan Accord here.

END


For more information, contact:

Secretariat in Amsterdam:
Pakistan

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Pakistan Accord: Supplier Briefing #1

December 14, 2022

Supplier Briefing #1

These Supplier Briefings are designed for all factories/suppliers listed by Pakistan Accord signatory brands. They include updates on key developments under the Pakistan Accord, along with information on upcoming events, guidance materials, and resources for suppliers.

We encourage all suppliers/factories covered by the Pakistan Accord to read these briefings regularly and to share their recommendations, ideas, and suggestions by contacting us via pakistan.factories@internationalaccord.org.

This briefing includes:

  • The rationale for a Pakistan Accord
  • Key goals and benefits of the Pakistan Accord
  • What factories can expect once the programs start


In a Nutshell

  • The Pakistan Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry (Pakistan Accord) is an agreement between brands, retailers, and global trade unions to ensure health and safety at textile and garment factories supplying Accord signatory brands and retailers.
  • The Pakistan Accord agreement was announced on 14th December 2022 with the intention to begin implementation in early 2023.
  • The Pakistan Accord covers cut-make-trim (and vertically integrated) suppliers of ready-made-garments, home textile, fabric & knit accessories and fabric mills in company signatory supply chains. The timing and process of the implementation of the Accord in relation to not vertically integrated fabric mills will be determined by the Accord Steering Committee at a later stage.
  • Pakistan Accord safety programs include: Independent fire, electrical, structural and boiler safety inspections and remediation, safety committee training, independent complaints mechanism and local capacity-building.
  • For the first years, the costs of implementing Pakistan Accord programs are funded by the brands and retailers that sign the Accord. Accord signatories commit to negotiating commercial terms with their individual suppliers to ensure that remediation is financially feasible.


The Rationale for an Accord Program in Pakistan

Whilst much has been done to advance working conditions in the garment and textile industry globally, fires and other preventable safety incidents are still prevalent in the industry.

Since September 2021, the International Accord signatories and staff have been exploring the feasibility of establishing factory safety programs in key garment and textile producing countries, including Pakistan, as a significant source of garments and textiles for Accord signatories. The Accord Secretariat assessed the feasibility of expansion through signatory surveys, desk research, interviews, and local stakeholder consultations. Pakistan emerged as a priority country, in part because of its increasing importance as a garment and textile sourcing country for the Accord brands and the opportunity to renew EU trade benefits.


National Governance Body 

A national governance body will be established which will include national constituents, including industry, brands, trade unions, and others upon agreement. The mandate and composition will be determined through a consultative process, which the Accord Secretariat and brand and union representatives will initiate immediately starting in January 2023.


Key Goals of the Pakistan Accord 

The safety programs which will be established under the Pakistan Accord aim to achieve the following outcomes at factories supplying to the Pakistan Accord signatory brands:

  1. Compliance with fire, electrical, structural, and boiler safety standards.
  2. Functional safety committees and informed workers who address and monitor health and safety at factories.
  3. A trusted avenue for workers to raise health and safety concerns through an effective complaints mechanism.
  4. Collaboration with government institutions, ILO – Better Work Pakistan, and other similar initiatives to build capacity and enhance a culture of health and safety in the country.


Benefits For Manufacturers To Participate In the Accord 

  • Achieve health and safety standards to protect all workers from preventable health and safety incidents.
  • Access technical support and advice to implement corrective actions identified by qualified engineers during fire, electrical, structural and boiler safety inspections in accordance with global safety standards.
  • Comprehensive training for labour management health and safety committees, promoting constructive labour relations and joint problem solving between factory management and workers.
  • Effective resolution of worker grievances through the Accord’s health and safety complaints mechanism, which conforms to United Nations’ standards for effective grievance mechanisms.
  • Strengthen and potential increase commercial relationships with more than 180 global brands and retailers signed up to the Accord by giving assurance of health and safety standards through independent Accord monitoring.
  • Reduce audit fatigue through collective monitoring of workplace safety for more than 180 global brands and retailers.
  • Gain public recognition for maintaining health and safety standards because remediated factories are listed on the Accord website.


What Factories Can Expect When the Accord Programs Start

Identifying factories to participate in the Pakistan Accord

  • In early 2023, the Accord will publish a list of all brands and retailers that sign the Pakistan Accord on internationalaccord.org.
  • Signatory brands will prepare a list of the garment and textile facilities supplying them in Pakistan and may seek additional data from each factory about each supplier’s facilities to assist Accord prioritisation of program rollout.
  • Around March 2023, the Accord will publish the list of factories producing for all Pakistan Accord signatory brands, without mentioning which company signatories are sourcing at each factory.

Phased rollout of Accord programs

  • The Accord will identify the first batch of factories to begin implementing Accord programs.
  • The Accord will work with the selected factories to prepare for and schedule initial inspections.
  • Fire, structural, electrical, and boiler inspections will be conducted and reports will be shared with each factory and their signatory brand customers.
  • Each factory will be invited to meet the Accord team to discuss the inspection findings and remediation solutions, then requested to develop a suitable Corrective Action Plan (CAP).
  • The inspection reports and CAP will be published on the Accord website.
  • The Accord will conduct follow-up inspections to monitor remediation progress.

Public recognition for implementing workplace safety programs 

  • When a factory has fully remediated findings from the initial inspections, the factory will receive a letter of recognition and the Accord will make a public statement recognising that factory’s remediation.
  • When a factory has completed the Safety Committee training program, this will be recorded on the Accord’s public factory list.


The Accord Safety Standard

After consultations with government authorities and engineering experts in Pakistan, the Accord will publish a Pakistan Accord Standard in early 2023 which references the relevant Pakistan Building Codes. This Standard will be the basis for the Pakistan Accord inspections and remediation program. In case factories inspected by the Accord want to discuss a particular interpretation of the Standard regarding their factory safety measures, there will be an opportunity to raise this with an Accord Lead Engineer and ultimately the Chief Safety Officer.


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Pilot safety assessments at 7 garment and textile factories in Karachi and Lahore

Updates on programs in Pakistan

December 10, 2022

Update on ongoing feasibility studies

The International Accord and a team of Arup engineers conducted pilot safety assessments at 7 garment and textile factories in Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan, between 28 November to 9 December 2022.

The engineers evaluated the existing fire, structural, electrical, and boiler safety measures at these factories to inform the possible establishment of a new workplace safety program there. The factories ranged in size from 180 to 3,500 workers and from 1 single building to up to 9 buildings.

A detailed pilot evaluation report will be drafted in February following an analysis of assessment reports, individual factory remediation discussions, and a pilot evaluation workshop with participating factories and brands.

These safety assessments were a part of the Secretariat’s ongoing feasibility studies to explore Accord programs in new countries. Based on strong interest from stakeholders, the Accord Steering Committee agreed to conduct this pilot in Pakistan to inform the possible establishment of a workplace safety program there. A decision among signatories on the start of a new Accord program is expected before the end of 2022.

The International Accord thanks the teams at all factories for their enthusiastic participation and looks forward to our continued work together.


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Establishing programs in other countries

Updates on programs in Pakistan

October 28, 2022

Update on ongoing feasibility studies

The Secretariat conducted brand surveys, desk research, and in-depth interviews between October 2021- January 2022 to measure interest, presence, and volume of signatory brands in key garment-producing countries.

Based on key findings, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Morocco, and India emerged as the priority countries to carry out detailed feasibility studies on expansion.

Between March – August 2022, the Secretariat met with key stakeholders from industry, government, trade unions, brands, and civil society in the priority countries for in-depth stakeholder consultations.

Based on strong interest from stakeholders, the Accord Steering Committee agreed to conduct pilot inspections as part of the feasibility study in Pakistan to inform the possible establishment of a workplace safety program there.

Stakeholder engagement on the terms of a program in Pakistan continues and a decision among signatories is expected before the end of 2022. The Accord will continue dialogue with stakeholders in Sri Lanka, Morocco, and India to assess the feasibility of establishing safety programs in their garment and textile industries.


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