The recent renewal of the Bangladesh Accord has sparked a debate amongst industry leaders on the feasibility its renewal. While some believe, the agreement has led to substantial improvement in safety standards in Bangladesh factories, others are skeptical about the model’s ability to foster collaboration within the industry, writes Kim van der Weerd, Co-host of Manufactured Podcast, writer, consultant in a Textile Today write up.
Fails to shoulder supplier responsibility
The article quotes Elizabeth Cline, Author and Director- Policy and Advocacy, Remake who argues the new Accord encourages brands to enforce health and safety standards in garment factories. It makes brands legally responsible to adhere to worker safety rules in factories. However, it acquits them from their responsibility towards suppliers. The new Accord is an agreement between trade unions and brands, says Nurul Muktadir Bappy, who earlier worked with the Bangladeshi supplier Epcot. Though this compliance shake was needed, it would have been done in other ways.
Matthijs Crietee, Secretary-General, International Apparel Federation agrees, earlier, manufacturers were not considered suitable to be the members of the International Apparel Federation. However now, perceptions are changing and suppliers are being treated on an equal level with brands, multistakeholder initiatives, unions, and employers,
Need to share financial risks and rewards
The author writes, to assert more control over safety standards in garment factories, brands need to share the financial risks and rewards involved in the production of their garments. However, the new Accord fails to make brands responsible to commit to making financial investments of at least 50 per cent of projected demand for a period equal to the supply chain’s total lead time. It also fails to compel brands to make prices compliant with demands.
If a brand is made to pay a deposit equal to the supply chain’s total lead time, it would compel them assume their fair share of the losses in lieu of changing consumer demands. Similarly, if a brand’s demand forecasts fail, they need to bear the losses equally with suppliers.
If suppliers are freed from shouldering the responsibility of changing consumer demands alone, they can concentrate on their workers’ conditions. Brands therefore, need to be made equally responsible for production of their garments. They also need to share financial risks equally. This alone would foster true collaboration between industry stakeholders.