H&M and Zara sign new agreement in Bangladesh to protect garment workers

There is no doubt that the new agreement is an important milestone, especially in light of 18 difficult months for garment workers, around 80% of whom are women, around the world. Millions of people have found themselves in dire straits after losing their jobs or facing severe pay cuts during the pandemic, due to major brands canceling or refusing to pay orders for billions of dollars. dollars, including $ 16.2 billion in orders from April to June 2020 alone.

Campaigners are now calling for the new deal to extend beyond health and safety to also protect the livelihoods of garment workers. “I really hope we can use the binding nature of the Accord to expand into other areas,” said Ayesha Barenblat, Founder and CEO of the nonprofit Remake. “It’s time for regulations to address other issues like gender-based violence, wage theft, severance pay – it’s not just about the physical safety of workers. It’s a wonderful first step, but now let’s build on this model because we know this model works.

The new agreement also allows the agreement to be applied to other countries beyond Bangladesh, with brands committing to expand the agreement to cover at least one more country in the first two years.

While H&M, Zara and Uniqlo are among those who have confirmed they have signed the new agreement, the full list of signatories will not be announced until September 1. More than 200 brands have joined the previous agreement, including Adidas, the owner of Tommy Hilfiger PVH and Hugo Boss.

While there is still some way to go to ensure the livelihoods and safety of garment workers are protected globally, the new agreement is an important victory for campaigners and shows the power that campaigners have. consumers may have to put pressure on brands. “The power of our voice, as ordinary fashion-loving people, makes a difference,” concludes Barenblat. “It may seem that when you sign a petition or start a tweet, it doesn’t matter. But here is an example of how it has mattered.

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