Updates: Bangladesh Safety Accord
February 12, 2014
I write to provide several brief updates concerning the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
- With respect to university licensees, the following have now signed the Accord:
Top of the World
Cutter & Buck (whose parent company, New Wave Group, has signed for all of its brands)
Ahead, LLC (also owned by New Wave Group)
We appreciate the positive commitment to worker safety in Bangladesh that these licensees have made. Knights, adidas and Top of the World are, according to CLC rankings, the three largest collegiate licensees producing in Bangladesh. It is encouraging that all three have signed the Accord. Indeed, of the twelve largest licensees sourcing from Bangladesh, seven have now joined the Accord. The largest licensees producing in Bangladesh that have not signed the Accord are VF Corporation (owner of VF Imagewear and JanSport), Outerstuff, MJ Soffe, Outdoor Cap and Antigua Group.
- A number of universities individually have made public announcements of their school’s decision to require its licensees sourcing from Bangladesh to sign the Accord. These schools are: Duke University, Penn State, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Georgetown, Columbia and Cornell. We understand that this issue is under active consideration at many other colleges and universities.
- At the request of the Accord staff, I testified on behalf of the Accord earlier this week before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I reviewed key elements of the program, particularly those related to worker participation (a particular interest of the committee members), and provided updates on recent developments. My testimony can be accessed here.
- The WRC has not received a corrective action plan from VF for the factory in Bangladesh that the WRC inspected in September and which supplies VF with collegiate apparel. We identified multiple serious fire safety hazards (see our report here). VF says it is developing such a plan, but we are concerned about the delay. Outerstuff, which has a supplier factory in Bangladesh that the WRC also inspected, already has provided us with a detailed corrective action plan for safety issues at that facility. We will be reporting further on both factories shortly.
- Implementation work on the Accord continues with vigor. The task, of course, is enormous: more than 5,000 inspections to be conducted at 1,800 factories in this year alone (each factory will receive fire, electrical and structural inspections), renovation plans to be agreed upon and implemented at most of those factories, a worker training program under development that will ultimately provide education on worker safety and worker rights to more than one million workers – along with other major elements of this initiative. Inspections will begin on a large scale later this month and public reports will begin to be released. The Accord staff will be issuing an update shortly providing detailed information on the inspection program (inspection personnel, schedule and scale of inspections).
- As we have previously reported, the US Marine Corps also has decided to require its apparel licensees to sign the Accord. The Defense Appropriations Act for the federal government’s current fiscal year, as passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, includes language commending the Marine Corps for adopting this policy and urges the other military branches to do so as well. The legislation also requires the Secretary of Defense to issue quarterly reports that specify whether suppliers to military exchange stores that source apparel from Bangladesh are signatories to the Accord or abide by its terms.
- The Accord now has 151 signatory companies from 21 countries.
As always, please contact me if you have any thoughts or questions about this communication. We appreciate the attention the university community is devoting to this important issue.
Worker Rights Consortium
5 Thomas Circle NW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
ph 202 387 4884
fax 202 387 3292