Deal Achieved for New International Safety Accord

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova
Date:November 6, 2023
Re:Deal Achieved for New International Safety Accord

I am heartened to report that agreement has just been reached to renew the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Sector. This new agreement will serve as the umbrella for country-level fire and building safety programs for years to come—including those in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and, in the future, in additional countries where workers face grave safety risks. While negotiations for the new agreement were complex and challenging, there was clear recognition among brands and unions that the Accord is vital to the safety of the world’s garment workers. The positive outcome of the negotiations reflects that recognition.

Here are key points to note about the new agreement:

  • The new Agreement secures the work of the Accord until 2030: the agreement runs for three years initially, with automatic renewal for another three unless a given brand chooses to opt out.
  • The agreement includes the essential commitments by brands that have been at the heart of the Accord since its inception. The legally binding instrument commits brands to:
    • require supplier factories to accept inspections by qualified, independent building safety engineers;
    • require suppliers to implement all renovations and repairs deemed necessary by the engineers;
    • ensure that suppliers have the sufficient financial capacity to pay for all renovations and repairs;
    • cease doing business with any supplier factory that refuses to become safe.
  • The new International Accord includes strong provisions for expansion of the program to new countries, once certain program benchmarks are met. Countries already identified as priorities for expansion are India, Sri Lanka, and Morocco—all producers of university logo apparel. An especially large volume of collegiate product comes out of India, a country which has seen many deadly fires in garment factories, including a fire in 2020 that killed seven and one in 2019 that killed 43.
  • Signatories to the Pakistan Accord, and /or to a pending renewal of the Bangladesh agreement, are required to sign the new International Accord, which provides necessary support and infrastructure for the individual country programs. However, signing the International Accord does not obligate signatories to participate in any specific country agreement. Signatories are obligated to sign on to at least one country agreement, of their choice, and may sign on to others. The exception to the above will be university licensees that are required by their university licensors to participate in both Pakistan and Bangladesh, something many universities already require for any licensee that sources collegiate apparel from both countries. We of course hope brands worldwide will participate in every available Accord program.
  • The Pakistan Accord is available for licensees and other brands to sign now. The International Accord, and the renewed Bangladesh agreement, will be open for signing starting November 16.

The full text of the new International Accord can be viewed here, and here is a statement released today by the Accord secretariat.  

We appreciate your continued support for the Accord’s life-saving work. I look forward to sharing more information with you on the new agreement and its implementation in the weeks ahead. As always, please let us know if you have questions or thoughts about this information.