OECD side session: Expansion of the International Accord to 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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