BUILDING SAFETY: THE INTERNATIONAL ACCORD AND THE BANGLADESH CASE

We helped to establish the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Garment and Textile Industry, initiated on the 1st of September 2021.

This new agreement is based on the earlier Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety established in 2013 and its transition agreement in 2018, both of which we also promoted.

One of the main objectives of this new agreement is to expand prior learnings and achievements in Bangladesh to other sourcing markets through transparent and effective health and safety measures.

Additionally, this new agreement recognizes the possibility of extending its scope beyond health and safety aspects with the aim of enhancing Human Rights’ due diligence.

In Bangladesh, the International Accord will support the independent RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) initiative, which is responsible for implementing health and safety related programmes in the country. This ensures that the important safety work that has already been undertaken in the country’s textile industry can continue as a result of the collaboration of manufacturers, brands and unions. As a signatory of the International Accord, Inditex commits to support the RSC in continuing its important health and safety work in Bangladesh.

Continued improvements in worker safety in Bangladesh

At Inditex we helped foster the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’s Garment Industry. In 2018, we also signed the Transition Accord, playing an active role in supporting the continued safety enhancements in the country's garment industry. Most recently, in January 2020, we participated in the signing of a Transition Agreement and the development of the articles of association for the RSC, which was established in June 2020 to implement factory safety monitoring and remediation in the textile industry in Bangladesh and entails the close collaboration of manufacturers, brands and unions.

Inditex became one of the first signatories of the International Accord, which was formally established on the 1st of September 2021. Through this legally binding agreement, promoted together by IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and international brands, we commit to support the RSC in Bangladesh and expand safety programmes in the textile sector to other markets based on feasibility studies.

At Inditex, we believe strongly in the importance of this agreement to maintain a sustainable, transparent, systematic and measurable initiative which works in close collaboration with key stakeholders to continuously improve worker safety in the garment industry. It works through the following ways:

  • Thorough and trustworthy safety inspections under the direction of the chief safety inspector, an independent figure.
  • Public reporting of the inspections carried out, lists of suppliers and manufacturers used by the signatories and quarterly reports with aggregate figures.
  • Remediation plans when breaches are detected.
  • Termination of business relationships with factories that fail to remediate.
  • Financial support to ensure that factories can implement the required measures.
  • Protection of labour rights for employees who feel unsafe to attend work due to unsafe conditions.
  • Health and safety training for employees.
  • Effective establishment of health and safety committees at all factories.
  • Independent procedures to guarantee the ability to raise queries or level complaints about health and safety matters without fear of reprisal.

Our early decision to formalise our alliance with the unions under the scope of the Accord in 2013 led to a further 200 or so international brands signing up. 

Following the initial inspection of over 1,600 factories, the first factories complied with their safety recommendations in 2015. The various factories, signatory brands, union organisations and other stakeholders continue to collaborate actively to achieve the targets set on factory safety and through this new agreement can further improve working conditions beyond Bangladesh.

No business ties with Rana Plaza

Following the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, which killed over 1,100 people and injured another 2,000, transformation of the Bangladesh garment industry has accelerated. While Inditex had no business ties with any of the factories located in the Rana Plaza building, we engaged with the initiatives emerging in the wake of the disaster from the outset, donating $1.6 million to the victims. 

Other projects in the country

Our sustainability team continues to play an active role improving working conditions in Bangladesh and reinforcing compliance with Inditex's Code of Conduct within our supply chain.

Ongoing implementation of the Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL Global Union remains one of the cornerstones of Inditex's strategy for engaging supply chain workers. Training activities are conducted regularly with managers and worker representatives at the factories within Inditex's supply chain in Bangladesh. This focuses on building awareness of the Global Framework Agreement and the way in which the company is working to promote worker-management dialogue in collaboration with IndustriALL Global Union and its local affiliates. Activities of this kind show the importance of stakeholder collaboration, by specifically reaching out to the players with a vested interest in Inditex's supply chain in the country to strengthen industrial relations in Bangladesh.