Breakthrough: A New Safety Accord for Pakistan
December 15, 2022
I am pleased to share the news that an agreement has been reached by apparel brands and worker organizations to create a safety program in Pakistan, modeled on the Bangladesh Accord. The program will be a powerful vehicle to address fire and structural hazards in factories across Pakistan, including more than 70 making university apparel. The announcement can be read here.
As is the case throughout South Asia, many apparel factories in Pakistan are in multistory buildings, making any fire safety or structural deficiencies especially dangerous. Indeed, the worst fire in the history of the global garment industry happened in Pakistan in 2012, with more than 250 workers killed.
Safety deficiencies are known to be common in Pakistan’s apparel factories—a systemic problem that cannot be addressed by any one licensee or brand. This is the same situation we saw years ago in Bangladesh, where it took a binding agreement involving more than 200 brands, and a massive program of renovation and repair, to achieve the vast safety improvements that were needed. That proven approach will now be expanded to Pakistan.
Importantly, this gives the many university licensees sourcing from Pakistan the chance to benefit from the collective safety efforts of many of the world’s largest apparel brands, while also contributing to those efforts. The result will be the elimination of dangerous hazards in factories where workers sew university apparel.
The Pakistan Accord will work in conjunction with the International Safety Accord (formerly known as the Bangladesh Accord), but it is a separate agreement. To bring their factories into the Pakistan program, companies that are International Accord signatories, including university licensees, will also need to sign the Pakistan agreement. On January 16, licensees and other brands will receive an invitation to sign from the Accord office.
The advent of the Pakistan Accord will be enormously beneficial to the country’s vast apparel workforce, including tens of thousands of workers who make university apparel. The WRC is already working on implementation, including helping to lead the search for the Chief Safety Officer who will helm the program on the ground.
In subsequent communications, we will be sharing more detailed information about the program’s structure, the timeline for implementation, the obligations and benefits that come with being a signatory, and the prospects for licensee participation. We are also preparing informational material for licensees and for the licensing agents.
As always, please let us know if you have any questions.