The proverbial extra mile to be walked for ensuring that garment workers’ safety is not compromised and factory working conditions are improved is now within range of sight for Bangladesh with the garment industry taking more steps towards the direction.
The initiative has been set into motion by two major global unions, namely IndustriAll and UNI Global who have entered into an agreement with a multinational clothing brand to allocate USD 2.3 million to set right the unsafe workplace environment in Bangladesh.
The settlement was reached by the unions and clothing brands through an arbitration process under the aegis of Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety. The agreement is legally binding and involves brands and trade unions that have agreed to promote a safe working environment in Bangladesh’s garment sector offering protection to nearly 2.5 million local workers. The recently reached settlement has so far been the single largest payment made towards ensuring the safety and improvement of working conditions of Bangladeshi garment workers.
The settlement was effectuated by a law firm, namely Covington & Burling LLP that represented the two global unions. The terms of the settlement offered anonymity to the multinational clothing brand which has agreed to pay up USD 2 million for the improvement of working conditions in the garment factories of Bangladesh. The funds will trickle through to more than 150 of the factories that are set up In Bangladesh. In addition to the USD 2 million, the clothing brand will also contribute USD 300,000 the two unions. This money is intended to accrue to IndustriAll and UNI Global’s Joint Supply Chain Worker Support Fund. The Fund has been created to strengthen the global unions’ endeavor to enhance working conditions and wages for garment workers globally.
“This settlement shows that the Bangladesh Accord works. It is proof that legally binding mechanisms can hold multinational companies to account. We are glad that the brand in question is now taking seriously its responsibility for the safety of its supplier factories in Bangladesh,” said UNI Global Union deputy general secretary Christy Hoffman, adding, “Their financial commitment serves as an example for other brands to follow.”