Precedent setting Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in jeopardy

On November 30, a restraining order placed on the Transition Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is set to come into effect pending the outcome of an appeal submitted by the Accord last week. If the Bangladeshi High Court does not grant the appeal, the groundbreaking multi-stakeholder factory inspection body will have to leave Bangladesh.

On May 31, 2018, the original Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was replaced by the renewed “2018 Accord” also known as the “Transition Accord”, with a mandate to continue the work of the Accord for an additional three years or until a national regulatory body demonstrated its ability to take over the work of the Accord.

Established following the April 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in which 1,134 workers were killed and over 2,500 injured, the Accord carries out independent safety inspections of garment factories and offers workers health and safety training and an effective complaints process.

To date, the Accord has completed 28,000 follow-up safety inspections, identifying more than 100,000 fire, building and electrical hazards and rectifying 89% of those issues. One thousand health and safety committees have been established and are receiving training, informing over 150 million workers on workplace safety hazards. To date, 330 complaints from workers or worker representatives have been resolved.

A negative decision by the High Court on November 30 would put an abrupt end to the important work of the Accord inside Bangladesh. MSN and the three other Witness Signatories to the Accord are calling on the Bangladesh government to respect the terms of the Accord and support its appeal to the High Court, which would allow it to continue its work in the country. While the Accord would continue to operate from its headquarters in Amsterdam, its ability to effectively monitor, evaluate and push for remediation would be significantly constrained.

On November 24, we will join with other trade union and labour rights organization in commemorating the sixth anniversary of the tragic fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory, which took the lives of 112 workers. The expulsion of the Accord would undermine the important steps forward in workplace safety in Bangladeshi factories, re-opening the door to more preventable disasters such as Tazreen and Rana Plaza.

Additional information
#RanaPlazaNeverAgain twitter campaign (Twitter)
Write to the Bangladeshi governmental representatives to "Keep workers safe in Bangladesh"
European Parliament slams Bangladesh Government on human rights and calls for the continuation of the Accord  (Clean Clothes Campaign)
Bangladesh must keep Accord on Fire and Building Safety (IndustriALL)
Statement of the Bangladesh Accord Witness Signatories (Clean Clothes Campaign)
Bangladesh clothing factories face squeeze if safety push blocked (Reuters)
April 2018 Quarterly Aggregate Report (Accord on Building and Fire Safety)