Ten years ago, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,133 workers, and injuring over 2,500. It was an avoidable tragedy and exposed the human rights risks of outsourcing apparel manufacturing to factories with inadequate safeguards to protect workers.
In response, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was signed on May 13, 2013, a legally binding agreement between global brands and unions to reform the sector and create safe factories.
Additionally, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) formed the Bangladesh Investor Initiative – comprising over 200 institutional investors, including Praxis – to press global companies sourcing in Bangladesh to become directly involved in helping to reform the country’s apparel sector by joining the Accord. In the ten years since, this group of investors has supported the Accord’s work to create workplaces that protect and respect the lives of workers and help mitigate the risks to companies and their investors.
As a result of the collective action underlying the Accord, more than two million workers in Bangladesh now operate under safer conditions than they did a decade ago. But there is room for improvement. Praxis recently joined an investor statement commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy and advocating for accelerated implementation of human rights policies in the garment sector.
The statement calls on apparel brands to take the following concrete actions:
- Accelerate and strengthen the implementation of human rights due diligence as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights with increased attention given to remedy, in their operations and value chains as part of their ‘corporate responsibility to respect human rights’;
- For those companies sourcing from suppliers in Bangladesh or with plans to do so in the near future, signing the International Accord;
- For those companies sourcing from suppliers in Pakistan or with plans to do so in the near future, signing the Pakistan Accord;
- Joining the Employment Injury Scheme (EIS) Pilot in the garment sector of Bangladesh, an innovative initiative that involves the International Labor Organization, government, brands, trade unions, and employers, in creating a social protection plan including compensation for medical treatment and rehabilitation services, as well as income loss caused by occupational injuries and disease.
Praxis will continue to work with apparel companies through the investor initiative. Our actions in this sector reflect our core values of respecting the dignity and value of all people and demonstrating a concern for justice in a global society.