Ostrum supports Bangladesh Accord again in 2018
Workers’ rights violations and poor working conditions in the textile and garment industry remain a constant problem in Bangladesh, and to combat this situation, Ostrum Asset Management has signed up to the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety1, which has been renewed again this year, fitting with its ongoing determined ambitious CSR policy.
The original accord was signed in 2013 in the aftermath of the collapse of the Rana Plaza, which killed more than 1,100 workers and left 2,500 injured: in addition to Ostrum Asset Management, signatories included trade unions, NGOs and brands. The agreement led to health and safety inspections in more than 1,600 factories to ensure that they complied with fire regulations, electrical standards and structural safety norms, leading to the identification of 118,500 potential risks.
The Accord was highly effective and has made factories much safer than before. Most health and safety targets have been met, with an overall improvement rate of 82%, while more than 650 factories have completed more than 90% of their required safety remediation. By May 2018, more than $50m had been spent on programs to inspect facilities and improve health and safety, as well as overall working conditions.
However, at this stage, only a quarter of the initial signatories have renewed their commitment by signing the 2018 Accord, and while a great deal of progress has been made, a lot remains to be done so any weakening of the agreement would jeopardize improvements made since 2013. This risk is further exacerbated by the absence of a fully resourced national regulatory body that has the power to inspect facilities, require corrective steps and protect workers’ rights.
An accord statement was issued in May to alert 2013 signatories who had not signed the new agreement to renew their support before the end of 1Q 2018, and also called for more extensive safety inspections in operations such as knitting, spinning and weaving, washing, dying and printing of home textiles.
Looking to the future
The new 2018 Accord was due to come into force when the 2013 accord expired in May. It is built on the initial agreement and maintains its revolutionary legally binding framework, along with its focus on disclosure, while adding in fresh rights for safeguards for workers and targeting a higher number of factory inspections and renovations.
1 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.