Zara and H&M might be forced to cease sourcing from Bangladesh
Fast fashion brands might need to stop sourcing from Bangladesh. Watchdog group that has been working to improve Bangladesh garment factories could close as soon as next week. After the tragic Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 in which over 1,100 garment workers were killed, a five-year accord was put in place to improve working conditions in Bangladesh’s factories.
Called the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, over 200 global firms and retailers including H&M and Zara signed the Accord. Since the disaster five years ago, the Accord has inspected over two thousand factories and comprised a detailed plan to repair over 150 thousand structural and safety concerns.
However, a complaint was recently made by a factory owner and the Bangladeshi High Court has now ordered the Accord on Fire and Building Safety to close its Dhaka office. The complaining factory owner had been accused by the group of falsifying test results on the strength of his factory’s structure. “The premature shut down of the Accord, leaving workers in unsafe circumstances, would jeopardize the brands’ ability to source from a safe industry,” the Accord’s deputy director Joris Oldenziel told Reuters.
The group has been lobbying the government to lift the court order. If nothing changes, the Accord will continue to operate from the Netherlands, and the companies who have signed it will still be legally bound. The signatories would no longer be able to source from hundreds of Bangladeshi factories with safety issues if the Accord can no longer monitor inspections. This would mean that fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M who use these factories due to the low wages in the area would have to find new sourcing solutions.