Fashion Shall Cause No Harm
At around 6 pm the Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan exploded into flames. As the fire ripped through the Ali Enterprises factory, workers were trapped in the building, behind barred windows and locked exit doors. Some workers managed to escape merely by jumping from windows considered too high to require bars, in the four-story building. The fire claiming the lives of over 250 people, and seriously injuring 55.
Workers need a safe working environment
The search of the global garment and sportswear industries for the lowest costs comes at a high price: the
health and safety of workers.After more than a century of industrial experience and development of national
regulation and international conventions, workers continueto lose their health and lives while stitching our clothes.
That is why occupational health and safety (OHS) are a top priority in the struggle for better working conditions
in the garment industry. This ranges from minimum standards in housing and food provision to the risk of death,
serious injury and occupational diseases. Workplace exposures to toxic agents, noise and repetitive motion
and structural neglect of the safety of buildings continue to cause injuries and take lives. Also are workers,
the majority of which are women, vulnerable to sexual, verbal and psychological harassment and violence.
World-wide interests in worker safety in the garment industry has grown considerably since the three workplace disasters that shook
the world in 2012 and 2013: the factory fires in Ali Enterprises and Tazreen Fashions in Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2012 and especially
the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013. Thousands of garment workers were killed and injured.
The disasters have also shown that a corporate-led voluntary, commercial system of auditing does not do
enough to ensure a safe workers' environment. Better regulation, inspection and implementation of existing
legislation and conventions and binding Enforceable Brand Agreements are needed.
These terrible incidents have increased the public and political pressure towards creating a safe and healthy working environment.
One positive step forward is the establishment of the binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in the aftermath of
Rana Plaza. The disasters have also shown that a corporate-led voluntary, commercial system of auditing does not do enough to
ensure a safe workers' environment. Better regulation, inspection and implementation of existing legislation and conventions and
binding Enforceable Brand Agreements are needed. Above all, truly sustainable safe working conditions can only be reached if
workers can address these issues freely themselves, without fear of dismissal.
The Accord's first mandate ended in May 2018, but the follow-up 2018 Transition was signed by over 190 brands (read more about
this campaign and about which brands did and did not sign the 2018 Accord). Through the #ProtectProgress campaign we a urging
for the Accord's domestic operations to stay in Bangladesh despite a pending restraining order.
Make Employment Injury Insurance a Reality
Our goal is to make sure that incidents like Rana Plaza will no longer happen. But they do, and governments, brands, retailers and
employers should fulfil their obligations to ensure workers receive full and fair compensation for their medical costs, loss of income,
and pain and suffering. Those responsible for breaches of workers' safety should be held to account. Read more here about the need
to create an employment injury insurance system.
Work towards preventive safety in Pakistan
In Pakistan, unions take the example of the Bangladesh Accord and are working to adapt it to their own national circumstances.
Read more about this initiative here.
Millions of garment workers are protected by the Bangladesh Accord, yet this global agreement is under threat. We urge the government of Bangladesh and brands to support the continuation of Bangladesh Accord. This is happening in the wake of the worst repression in a decade against workers who protested for higher wages. Workers in Bangladesh deserve safe factories, living wages and freedom from repression #FreedomSafetyLivingWage.