The ‘Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’ in Response to the Rana Plaza Disaster

TitleThe ‘Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’ in Response to the Rana Plaza Disaster
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsReinecke, Juliane, and Donaghey, Jimmy
EditorMarx, Axel, Rayp, Glenn, Beke, Laura, and Wouters, Jan
Book TitleGlobal Governance of Labor Rights
PublisherEdward Elgar
CityCamberley Surrey, UK
Keywordsapparel industry, Bangladesh, consumption power, garment workers, global union federatoins, ILO, Rana Plaza, supply chains

On 24 April 2013, in the Savar suburb of Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza building complex which housed several garment factories employing over 3,000 workers collapsed, leaving 1129 dead and over 2,000 injured. After the collapse, it quickly emerged that firms based in the hub comprised a checklist of Western household names in the textile industry, including Primark, Walmart, and Marks & Spencer's. Very quickly and reminiscent of the controversy surrounding Nike’s issues with child labour in its supply chains, public opinion in the developed world was sensitized to pay attention to what was happening in the supply chains of these brands. While strictly speaking these brands had no legal obligation to take care of their garment workers, pressure grew on these companies to take responsibility for the incident. Within weeks of the disaster, a host of leading textiles brands had signed up to the ‘Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’ (The Accord), which was unprecedented both due to its legally binding nature in committing brands to pay into a central inspection regime and maintain purchasing volumes from Bangladesh for five years, as well as being an agreement between over 180 western brands, two Global Union Federations (GUFs) and four social movement organisations. This chapter uses the Accord as an exploratory case study drawn on empirical research carried out by the authors to examine the governance of labour rights in supply chains, particularly with respect to how production-based power and consumption-based power was used to establish this novel collective agreement.