Esprit remembers the victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy – considers progress

On the occasion of the 5 year anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse that led to the death of 1,134 people and injured more than 2000, Esprit remembers the victims of the tragedy. This anniversary provides an opportunity to assess progress toward safer working conditions in Bangladesh. Although Esprit never produced in Rana Plaza, the tragedy had a dramatic affect on us and the entire global apparel industry.In the wake of the tragedy in May 2013, 222 brands joined with unions and NGOs to establish the Bangladesh Accord on Building and Fire Safety. Its purpose is to assure a environment in which no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses, or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures. The Accord has so far improved working conditions in more than1,600 factories with approximately 2 million workers. Since the Accord began operations, there has not been another factory collapse, and the rate of death by factory fire in Bangladesh has fallen by 97%.Together, the member brands have invested more than 55 million US dollars into factory inspection and remediation, and worker training programs. The Accord has become a model of how companies, trade unions and civil society organizations can work together to address problems. This successful collaborative experience has also led to the formation of ACT, a group of 17 brands and IndustriALL Global Union, which seeks to address the problem of low wages in the apparel industry modelled on the collaborative approach pioneered by the Bangladesh Accord. To maintain and expand the progress of the Accord, 145 brands and retailers have signed the 2018 Transition Accord with UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union. Esprit is very proud to be a part of the extended effort and will, as a member of the steering committee, continue to play a very active role going forward until the work can be handed over to a local body. Since the collapse of Rana Plaza, great strides have been made to improve factory safety in Bangladesh. Much work remains to be done though, and Esprit looks forward to continuing our efforts until the job is done.