The Pakistan Accord, a binding safety programme based on the model of the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, was announced on 14 December 2022, after years of campaigning by unions and labour organisations. Although the International Accord made factories safer for 2.5 million workers in Bangladesh, workers in Pakistan are still made to wait for similar improvements to take place as brands take their time to commit to the agreement.
The sign-on process began on 16 January 2023. Over 30 brands joined in the first month, among them major buyers like H&M, PVH, and ASOS. However, the pace of the roll-out stalled quickly and, six months later, 63 brands have signed the agreement, covering hundreds of factories, but several major buyers are still missing.
Among them are brands that have previously failed to take responsibility in Bangladesh, including the “Dirty Dozen” targeted in the recent CCC x Remake petition, which urged the brands to sign the Accord on the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse. Although the petition gathered over 64,000 signatures, the “Dirty Dozen”, which includes brands like IKEA, Levi’s, Kontoor Brands (Lee, Wrangler), Amazon, and Decathlon, have not committed to workers’ safety in Bangladesh or in Pakistan.
Several brands that have previously shown commitment to safety in Bangladesh and are major buyers in Pakistan are also slow to sign the agreement. Despite a considerable sourcing volume from Pakistan, Boohoo, The Very Group, Lidl, Missguided, Target Australia, Esprit, Matalan, and Fruit of the Loom all still fail to take the same responsibility for workers in Pakistan.
Nasir Mansoor, general secretary general of the National Trade Union Federation in Pakistan said: “We need all brands with production in Pakistan to sign the Accord as soon as possible. And, once brands sign, they must not sit back and relax. Only after inspections begin and workers can hand in complaints, will the risk of the next factory fire or collapse actually start to lower.”
As brands take their time, workers risk their lives. The recent fire and collapse at Usman & Sons factory showed that, until inspections and implementation of corrective action plans start, deadly incidents can happen at any time. Labels of the French supermarket chain Auchan were found in the rubble. This company signed the 2013 and 2018 Accord agreements but has failed to sign the 2021 International Accord and the Pakistan Accord. This deadly disaster showed that workers can only stay safe if brands show timely and continuous commitment to binding safety agreements.
Ineke Zeldenrust, international coordinator at Clean Clothes Campaign, said: “By signing the Pakistan Accord, brands and retailers commit to ensuring the factories in their Pakistan supply chain are made safe. This requires active support for the programme and suppliers, including living up to the obligation to ensure remediations are financially feasible for factories to carry out. Brands will have to reflect their commitment to factory safety in the prices they pay to factories to make actual improvements possible.”
Zehra Khan, general secretary of the Home Based Women Workers’ Federation, said “Workers in Pakistan have waited for long enough. The solutions exist, but some brands still risk workers’ lives and are escaping their responsibility. We call on brands and retailers to start putting speed behind the operation and make participation in the Pakistan Accord a top priority.”
Notes to editor:
- The up-to-date list of Accord signatories can be found on https://internationalaccord.org/signatories/. An overview of brands that have not signed is additionally available on https://cleanclothes.org/campaigns/the-accord/brand-tracker
- CCC’s Incident tracker: https://cleanclothes.org/campaigns/the-accord/deaths-and-injuries-in-the-global-garment-industry