Global trade unions and fashion brands and retailers have reached agreement on a new International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. The renegotiated contract secures the work of the Accord until the end of the decade, strengthens the complaint mechanism for workers and includes commitments for an expansion into other countries.
The three-year legally binding agreement, which is effective from 1 November 2023, automatically renews after three years without the need for negotiations. Brands commit to continue the health and safety programs in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and to establish programs in other countries. Conditions for expansion to other countries are based on feasibility studies and progress in the Accord’s existing country programs.
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said:
“This agreement is proof positive that the Accord model of supply chain regulation – a binding agreement between brands and global unions – has staying power. Many considered that it was a flash in the pan exercise in response to the crisis of Rana Plaza. But today the parties have agreed to a six-year deal which expands both the geographic coverage of the program and the issues within its scope. With the recent roll out of requirements for due diligence in the supply chain, employers everywhere should note that the Accord is a model with a proven track record.”
The new International Accord will continue to build on the foundations that have made the Accord so effective including independent factory inspections, remediation, safety training and an effective worker complaints mechanism.
In a boost to workers’ rights, the complaints mechanism will be expanded to include non-occupational safety and health issues, including freedom of association, following a pilot study.
Atle Høie, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said:
“Since its inception ten years ago, the Accord has been instrumental in making the garment industry safer. We now have a long-term, sustainable solution for the Accord with substantial scope for development when it comes to new countries and inclusion of the fundamental principles and rights at work as core building blocks in the complaint’s mechanism and in the training programmes.”
Under a new framework, the International Accord will act as a stand-alone framework agreement, with addendums for each country safety program. All brands sourcing from these countries are invited to sign these addendums in addition to the International Accord. The Agreement will be implemented through the International Accord Foundation and its secretariat, based in Amsterdam, as well as country offices.
The agreement also envisages a strong role for the International Labour Organization (ILO) in supporting country programmes to ensure they are implemented and effective. The ILO has long acted as a neutral chair of the Accord’s Steering Committee.
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