The International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry (International Accord) is a 26-month, legally binding agreement between garment brands, retailers and trade unions to make Ready-Made Garment (RMG) and textile factories safe. The parties commit to continue the collective workplace safety program in Bangladesh by supporting the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) and to expand their safety programs to other countries based on the principles and standards of the previous fire and building safety Accords of 2013 and 2018.
The agreement is based on a number of fundamental principles including: respect for freedom of association, independent administration and implementation, a high level of transparency, provisions to ensure remediation is financially feasible, Safety Committee training and worker awareness program, and a credible, independent complaints mechanism.
The main changes from the previous 2013 and 2018 Accord are:
- A commitment to expand the work of the International Accord to other countries based on feasibility studies
- A confirmation of the role of the independent RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) through which the signatories will implement their commitments in Bangladesh
- An option to expand the scope of the agreement to address Human Rights Due Diligence responsibilities
- An optional streamlined arbitration process to enforce the International Accord's terms
When signing the Accord, companies commit to:
- Disclose their RMG factory list to the Accord and keep this up-to-date. Signatories may further choose to list their suppliers in any of the following categories: i) home textiles; ii) fabric and knit accessories.
- Require their factories to participate in the inspections, remediation and workplace programs (Safety Committee Training, workers’ awareness programs, Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Complaints Mechanism).
- Negotiate commercial terms with suppliers which ensure it is financially feasible for the factories to maintain safe workplaces and comply with remediation requirements.
- Exercise their collective leverage by issuing notice and warning and ultimately terminate business with factories that show inadequate remediation progress, in accordance with the Escalation Protocol.
- Assume collective responsibility for funding the activities of the program as set forth in the Agreement.
- Join the Brands Association for Textile & RMG Sustainability in supply chains that represents the brands in the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) in Bangladesh.
- Expansion of health and safety programs to other countries than Bangladesh, based on feasibility studies.
- Potential expansion of the scope of the agreement to address additional Human Rights Due Diligence responsibilities.
The International Accord is aligned with UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). Through the workplace safety programs, brands seek to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts, prioritizing one of the most salient human rights risks in their supply chains: the risk to loss of lives and irremediable injuries by fires, building collapses, or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures.
The independent and trusted Safety and Health Complaints Mechanism, now with the RSC, meets the effectiveness criteria for Non-Judicial Grievance Mechanisms (UNGP Article 31, Pillar III – Access to Remedy).
The parties to the Agreement will also explore the expansion of the Accord’s scope to address additional human rights due diligence responsibilities and will set up a Working Group for this purpose.
The signatories agreed to the future expansion of health and safety programs and to the development of Country-Specific Safety Programs (CSSP) in other countries selected based on feasibility. The aim is that within the course of this 26-month International Accord agreement there will be at least one CSSP established.
Within six months of the commencement of the International Accord (before February 2022), the signatories will jointly define the criteria for determining where and when expansion is appropriate and will agree on an initial lists of countries for consideration.
CSSPs shall meet the following principles:
a) Programs are aligned with the principles, protocols, procedures, policies and programs developed under the Bangladesh Accord.
b) Programs include national constituents in their governance bodies, including industry, brands, trade unions and others upon agreement.
c) Programs use national government institutions and local expertise and, where applicable, the influence of the ILO - Better Work in order to build capacity and enhance a culture of health and safety in the country.
The RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) is an independent, national, tri-partite organisation in Bangladesh, consisting of brands, industry and trade union constituencies. The signatories to the International Accord have agreed to fulfil their commitments under the agreement in Bangladesh through their participation in the RSC. The RSC will continue to operate the safety inspections and remediation program, safety committee and safety training program, and the safety complaints mechanism in Bangladesh.
The International Accord Foundation will not be operating in Bangladesh, as the Accord’s Bangladesh based assets and human resources, protocols, procedures, and standards have been transitioned to the RSC in June 2020, in accordance with the May 2019 Memorandum of Understanding and the January 2020 Transition Agreement between the Accord Steering Committee and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and endorsed by the Bangladesh High Court and the Government of Bangladesh. The Secretariat of the International Accord shall support, coordinate and liaise with the operations of the RSC in order to ensure that the brand obligations under the agreement are met.
The Brands Association for Textile & RMG Sustainability in Supply Chains (Brand Association) was set up as an association in the Netherlands and brings together the International Accord signatory companies. The Brands Association is one of the three formal members of the RSC (the trade unions and industry have set up similar associations) and six representatives of the Brand Association will serve on the Board of Directors of the RSC. Brand signatories to this International Accord commit to joining the Brands Association. The Brands Association, as set out by their membership rules, is only open for membership to brands who are signatories to the International Accord for the duration of the agreement.
Signatory companies contribute their equitable share in accordance with a formula yet to be decided by the Accord Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will establish a sliding scale of contributions based on certain factors, such as revenues, number of factories and annual volume, subject to annual revisions and capped at 350,000 USD per year. The signatory companies will contribute to funding the activities of the International Accord Foundation and the RSC in Bangladesh.
The establishment of new Country-Specific Safety Programs may require additional funding which shall be subject to a decision by the International Accord Steering Committee.
The workplace safety progress and achievements of the 2013 and 2018 Accord's on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh remain publicly available on the Bangladesh Accord website: www.bangladeshaccord.org
This includes Quarterly Aggregate Reports, Remediation Updates as well as up to date factory-by-factory remediation data: