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‘Give workers an equal seat’: pressure builds for Levi’s to protect factory employees

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Workers and activists have been campaigning to push Levi’s, one of the world’s largest clothing brands, to sign on to an international accord for workers’ health and safety in Bangladesh and Pakistan.On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment clothing factories, collapsed, killing 1,134 people and injuring approximately 2,500, in the deadliest disaster in the garment industry’s history.In the wake of the incident, fashion brands signed on to an international accord that legally bound them to pay for safety inspections in the Bangladeshi garment industry, which is the second largest exporter of clothing in the world, behind China.

But since 2013, numerous top clothing brands have held out on signing on to the accord and subsequent extensions. In 2021, an expanded international accord was developed to include more safety and worker health provisions beyond fire, electrical and structural inspections and repairs of factories.

It covers garment factories in Pakistan as well as Bangladesh.The worker health and safety provisions include covering complaints of excessive overtime, lack of maternity leave, regular breaks, access to clean water and bathrooms, and workplace accidents such as heat exhaustion and injuries.

It also provides a worker complaint mechanism where employees can confidentially report violations and bind signatories to supporting the complaint process.Over 170 fashion brands have signed on to the accord, including Adidas, American Eagle, Fruit of the Loom, H&M, Zara, Hugo Boss, Puma, Primark, and PVH which owns the brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.The US-based non-profit Remake, in partnership with the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation, which represents

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