M&S, John Lewis yet to sign new Bangladesh accord

Several British retailers, including Marks & Spencer and John Lewis, are still largely absent from the 2018 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which is due to come into effect in May.



Initially signed in 2013 after the Rana Plaza building collapse, when more than 1,100 people lost their lives, the accord is a legally-binding agreement between brands and trade unions.

The new 2018 version introduces new elements such as safety training in all covered factories, workers’ severance payments, and the potential expansion of scope to related industries.

With only weeks to go until the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, M&S, John Lewis, Debenhams, Next and Sainsbury’s are yet to join the commitment. Other big brands such as Primark, H&M, KappAhl, Hugo Boss, C&A and Benetton have already signed the new accord.

According to reports, British retailers are reluctant to sign up to the new deal over concerns about cost implications and possible lack of support from factory owners.

The Guardian reported that Sainsbury’s has decided not to sign up, while M&S, Debenhams, John Lewis and Next are still considering their options ahead of the May deadline.

The new agreement will see brands commit to more investment in health and safety checks, with factory reviews taking place every six months. The previous accord, due to expire in May, was set up to make brands support the costs of improving health and safety in Bangladeshi factories.

Jenny Holdcroft, assistant general secretary of the international union IndustriALL, said: “Brands need to stay with the accord. Otherwise, all the hard work and money they have invested will quickly be undermined.”

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