The Pakistan Accord - What Does it Mean For Garment Workers?

critical debate policy social impacts supply chain sustainable fashion Feb 02, 2023

2023 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. On April 24th, an eight-story building collapsed, killing 1,134 people. Most of those killed were garment workers under contract by some of the largest fashion brands in the world. In the aftermath of Rana Plaza, brands were skirting responsibility by saying they didn’t know how bad the conditions were at Rana Plaza. The fashion industry and global community responded by saying not knowing isn’t good enough - we need brands to understand what the working conditions are like in every stage of production.

In order to create more protections for garment workers, the Bangladesh Accord was created. In nearly a decade’s worth of work, the accord has promoted and protected the health and safety of garment workers across Bangladesh. However, the work isn’t stopping there.

In recent months, work has been underway to expand the Bangladesh Accord to other countries as well. Pakistan is the latest country to adopt the accord, in collaboration with the international trade unions IndustriALL and UNI Global Union as well as brands and retailers. So, how will the accord keep Pakistani garment workers safe?

The Pakistan Accord will protect Cut-Make-Trim facilities, home textile suppliers, fabric suppliers, knit accessories suppliers, and fabric mills. Over the course of time, the goal of the accord is to cover more than 500 factories used by the signatories. Currently, some of the largest organizations that have signed the Pakistan Accord include Inditex, H&M, and PVH Corp., but there are almost 200 signatories in total.

For a company to become a signatory, they must make a financial contribution based on revenue, number of factories, and annual volume. The minimum contribution is $2,500 USD and the maximum is $185,000 USD. By any account, being part of the Pakistan Accord is no cheap ticket, but it could be a necessary step for your organization.

All of these details about the Pakistan Accord are a good start and we’re glad that the Bangladesh Accord is expanding and reaching new countries, but we have a few thoughts and concerns to bring up.

The scope of the Pakistan Accord is mainly focused on end-of-pipe production with little focus on suppliers further back in the supply chain.

When looking at the scope of work the Pakistan Accord hopes to achieve, it is a double edge sword. There are still plenty of people at risk further back in the supply chain, but if the program expands beyond its means, real change cannot occur.

We're also curious to know why Pakistan was the next country chosen for the expansion of the Bangladesh Accord. Pakistan was chosen by the original signatories of the Bangladesh Accord because many of the organizations felt that Pakistan needed the most urgent protections.

One of our guesses about why Pakistan was chosen is that many brands may be sourcing out of Pakistan and want to play it safe before another Rana Plaza disaster happens.

Making social progress in any country is amazing, but knowing the scale of risk in countries like India and China, there needs to be a solution to ensure worker safety for the millions of people throughout these countries who contribute to making our products. 

All in all, the Pakistan Accord is making an impact, but this is just the start of social protections for garment workers around the world.

That being said, this is where we are today. While we can still do more to address the social issues in the apparel industry, the Pakistan Accord is a great start. If your company sources out of Pakistan and can afford to contribute, we highly encourage signing it. If your company does sign, remember that there’s still work to be done - we have a long way to go!

If you want to know more about the Pakistan Accord, read our full breakdown by signing up for our membership program! You can also learn more about the social impacts associated with the apparel industry at our YouTube channel.

Have a question? Want to connect? Email us at [email protected]!

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