-By Ankita Dutta.
Brands are being urged by the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) to sign up for both the Pakistan Accord and the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry.
The Rana Plaza accident in 2013 resulted in 1,134 worker fatalities and 2,500 more injuries. The ICCR made the call before to the tragedy’s 10th anniversary on Monday, April 24.
In a joint statement released on Thursday, more than 190 investors, who control $1.3 trillion in assets, encouraged fashion companies to ratify the International Accord, a binding pact on worker safety.
The call increases pressure on businesses that have been criticised by worker rights activists for not ratifying the deal, including Walmart, Urban Outfitters owner URBN, and Levi Strauss & Co.
The announcement came just a few days before the Rana Plaza adversity a tragic factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that claimed more than 1,000 garment workers’ lives. Following the catastrophe, more than 200 businesses joined the Bangladesh-focused International Accord, a legally enforceable safety agreement that set new standards for responsibility and transparency.
Joris Oldenziel, executive director of the International Accord Foundation, claims that within a few months of the Bangladesh agreement’s introduction in 2013, 200 brands had joined it, leading to the inspection of more than 2,000 companies. The Accord has carried out more than 40,000 initial and follow-up inspections at those factories and found more than 150,000 safety issues that needed to be fixed.
93% of the 150,000 safety hazards, according to Oris, have been eliminated. More than 400 factories have finished the remediation process, which means they have addressed more than 100% of the initial findings. Very great progress has been made.
The 2 million workers in these factories are undoubtedly much safer today than they were in 2013.
The project has been hailed as the most effective safety campaign in the garment industry, inspiring plans to extend its influence beyond Bangladesh with the introduction of the International Accord in 2021. It announced ambitions to launch a project in Pakistan late last year, but only 45 brands have joined thus far.
A reflection of how the need for ethical investing and increasing regulatory scrutiny are affecting shareholder participation is that investors have asked companies with suppliers in both Bangladesh and Pakistan to sign up for the global and Pakistan-focused agreements.
According to Levi’s, the company has made investments in its own safety initiatives, giving it greater flexibility to refocus and apply new knowledge. Walmart and URBN did not reply to inquiries for comment.
According to Matthias Narr, international head of engagement at Swiss pension fund group Ethos, “In the current policy environment, companies are required to show how they effectively implement human rights due diligence to address salient human rights issues across their operations and value chains.” The International Accord and the Pakistan Accord, if you are not already a signatory, are the greatest ways to ensure that health and safety issues are handled properly.
The investor group announced that its members will interact with the brands in their holdings to persuade them to support the projects.