New Agreement Expands Protections for Bangladeshi Garment Workers

A new agreement protects the safety of workers who make the majority of fast fashion clothing

New Agreement Expands Protections for Bangladeshi Garment Workers
Image:Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

A new agreement aiming to protect Bangladeshi garment workers, who are responsible for making the majority of fast fashion clothing sold across the world, was announced on Wednesday, The Guardian reports.

The agreement replaces the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which was developed after the Rana Plaza factory collapse killed over a thousand garment workers, many of whom were working for brands like Primark, Walmart, and The Children’s Place. Nearly 200 international brands signed that agreement, agreeing to independent inspections of factories to ensure safety. And factories that didn’t meet the accord’s standards actually suffered; The New York Times reports that almost 200 factories lost contracts over the last five years for unsafe working conditions. Companies Walmart, Target, and VF Corp notably did not sign the 2013 accord, instead forming their own, less legally binding agreement to improve factory conditions.

But the 2013 agreement was due to expire at the end of August and tense negotiations for a new agreement resulted in unions walking away from the process in May, the NYT reports. The new agreement, named the International Accord for Health And Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, expires October 2023 and expands on the first’s commitment to health and safety for workers. Companies H&M and Inditex have said they already signed the agreement, but a full list of signees will be released on September 1.

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