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Dhaka Tribune

Retailers, unions sign a 3-month extension of Accord

They negotiated over the Accord and agreed on the extension, which was signed by 200 signatory retailers

Update : 31 May 2021, 08:38 PM

Retailers and apparel trade unions in the country have reached a tentative deal to extend the legally binding worker’s safety Accord for the next three months.

They negotiated over the Accord and agreed on the extension, which was signed by 200 signatory retailers on Monday, said a union leader involved in the discussion.

The parties are signatories of the 2018 Transition Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, in which signatories agreed to continue a Fire and Building Safety Program in Bangladesh until May 31, 2021.

The signatories include top apparel retailers like Zara-owner Inditex and H&M. 


Also Read - Brands urged to extend workers' safety deal, eight years after Rana Plaza disaster


These signatories will have until June 10 to state whether they agree, a spokesperson for UNI Global Union, one of the unions involved, said.

The interim agreement will be governed by the law of the Netherlands and will expire on August 31, 2021, said a union leader involved in the discussion.

Inditex and H&M did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether they would agree to the extension.

Unions have said they will pull out of the organization currently running the Accord if retailers do not commit to the legally binding portion of the agreement. 

The binding portion of the agreement obliges retailers to pay for repairs at supplier factories and bans them from working with these factories until they are deemed safe by Accord inspectors.

Babul Akhter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), said that factories are not safe without a legally binding agreement. 


Also Read - Accord closes Bangladesh operations


“We welcome this initiative and hope that all buyers will be with this initiative. As a result of this initiative, the way for discussion is still open,” he also said. 

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was first signed in 2013 after the collapse of the RMG manufacturing complex Rana Plaza of Savar, which killed at least 1,100 people.

The Accord was created as an independent body to run inspections at factories and obliged retailers to pay for any repairs, collecting $500,000 from each signatory per year to fund its activities.

Accord expired in May 2018 and extended the same year, culminating in the creation of a new organization called the Ready-Made Garments Sustainability Council (RSC).

As a tripartite organization, RSC is governed by factories, unions, and retailers. It took over the Accord's team and duties in June 2020 but did not immediately commit to extending the legally binding portion of the agreement beyond its expiration date of May 31, 2021.

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