Labour rights organisations hail advent of the Pakistan Accord
Expansion of binding international health and safety pact will save garment workers’ lives. The Pakistan Accord, a legally enforceable health and safety agreement between unions and fashion brands announced today, will provide vital new protections for Pakistan’s garment and textile workers.
- The new agreement is modelled on the Bangladesh Accord, signed after the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse. The Accord transformed the Bangladesh garment industry: more than 1,600 factories employing 2.5 million workers made critical safety renovations, saving countless lives.
- More than 250 workers died in the 2012 Ali Enterprises factory fire in Karachi, the worst fire in the history of the global garment industry. As in Bangladesh, voluntary auditing systems have not protected workers in Pakistan, and injuries and deaths in factories have continued, including at least 19 deaths and injuries in 2022 alone. This is why the Accord model is essential.
- The Pakistan Accord provides unique mechanisms of accountability. The agreement:
- is legally binding on brands;
- after comprehensive health and safety inspections to uncover hazards, mandates time-bound renovation plans to eliminate those hazards;
- ensures suppliers have the resources to pay for renovations;
- will protect all workers throughout the brands’ supply chain;
- provides workers a confidential avenue to surface urgent safety and health concerns and secure swift corrective action; and
- documents its performance through extraordinary public transparency.
- The International Accord has 187 brand signatories, at least half of which are sourcing from Pakistan, positioning hundreds of factories and fabric mills to fall under the agreement once brands sign on.
After a decade-long push towards factory safety for Pakistan’s garment workers, Pakistani unions and NGO witness signatories to the International Accord today celebrated the announcement of the new agreement:
Nasir Mansoor, General Secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan, said: “After years of fighting for the expansion of the Accord to Pakistan, our workers can finally be brought under its monitoring and complaint mechanisms. If enough brands sign, workers will not have to fear for their lives when going to work and will know who to appeal to when their factory is unsafe. The strength of the Accord is in the fact that unions have equal power to corporations in its decision-making.”
Zehra Khan, General Secretary of the Home-Based Women Workers’ Federation, said: “The Accord programme will bring inspections, safety trainings, and a complaint mechanism covering all health and safety issues, including gender-based violence, to workers in Pakistan producing for signatory brands. Particular attention will be needed to ensure that women workers, who are often not officially registered and might be working from home, have the same access to this programme as other workers.”
“We are heartened that the groundbreaking Accord programme will now come to Pakistan, where it is urgently needed. All brands sourcing from Pakistan should embrace this agreement,” said Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator of the Clean Clothes Campaign. “It is important to note that garment and textile workers in Pakistan had to wait a decade for this progress. We hope workers in other key garment producing countries won’t have to wait as long.”
Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium, said: “The hallmarks of the Pakistan Accord are accountability, enforceability, and transparency. Under this new agreement, Pakistan will become one of the safest places in the world to make clothes.”