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September 25, 2019

‘Pakistan needs agreement on pattern of Bangladesh accord to ensure workplace safety’

Karachi

September 25, 2019

A health and safety expert from Amsterdam office of Bangladesh Accord, Miriam Neale, has said that Pakistan industries are in dire need to have an organised mechanism to ensure workplace safety and for this purpose, an agreement on the pattern of the accord be made.

She said this while giving a presentation to the members of civil society outfits, trade union, labour support bodies and media on achievement of the accord during an event organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.

The accord is an independent and legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to work towards a safe and healthy garment and textile industry in Bangladesh. Since 2014, Neale has led Bangladesh Accord’s signatory engagement work supporting almost 200 company that are signatories to implement the accord’s workplace safety programmes with their suppliers. She also supported the governance processes of the accord coordinating the steering committee and protocol development.

The accord covers factories producing Ready-Made Garments (RMG) and at the option of signatory companies, home textiles and fabric and knit accessories, she said. She said because of Bangladesh accord the local exporting industries had been benefitted, and their labour force was now more organised and trade unions were playing their role in implementation of the laws regarding occupational safety and health.

Neale said that the accord was signed in the immediate aftermath to the Rana Plaza building collapse on 24 April, 2013 which killed 1,133 workers and critically injured thousands. Over 220 companies signed the five-year Accord, and by May 2018 the work of the Accord had contributed to significantly safer workplaces for millions of Bangladeshi garment workers.

To maintain and expand the progress achieved under the 2013 Accord, over 190 brands and retailers had signed the 2018 Transition Accord with the global unions, a renewed agreement which entered into effect on 1 June 2018.

Neale told the audience that the accord had provided training to over 1.2 million workers in Bangladesh and now they were playing their role. She emphasised the need to have a similar accord in Pakistan, especially after the Baldia Factory Fire incident in 2012.

Executive Director PILER Karamat Ali informed Neale that Pakistani trade unions and workers also wanted a similar type of arrangement like Bangladesh Accord. Nasir Mansoor from the National Trade Unions Federation, Zulfiqar Shah of the PILER and senior trade union leader, Liaquat Sahi, also spoke on the occasion.

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