Garment factory workers in Bangladesh filed a record number of complaints about safety last year. This shows that Accord, a mechanism set up by European fashion brands to improve working conditions, was effective. The Bangladesh Accord was signed by some 200 global brands and unions in 2013 after the Rana Plaza disaster, when about 1,100 people were killed after a garment factory complex collapsed - sparking outrage over poor working conditions. The legally-binding accord, which covers almost 1,700 factories, has signatory clothing brands and retailers from about 20 countries, such as Britain’s supermarket group Tesco, Swedish fashion group H&M and German sportswear giant Adidas. Accord bans non-compliant factories supplying its signatory buyers.
Accord has received 1,152 complaints since starting work in 2014, many relating to fire and structural hazards. It made more than 100 factories ineligible to supply its signatory firms. Compared to other complaint mechanisms, owners take complaints filed in Accord a bit more seriously. They know that buyers are also a stakeholder in Accord and if they don’t address the problem properly their business may be affected.
Bangladesh, which ranks behind only China as a supplier of clothes to western countries, relies on the garment industry for more than 80 per cent of its exports, and about four million jobs.