In order to push Levi’s to sign on to an international accord for workers’ health and safety in Pakistan and Bangladesh, activists have been campaigning against the company.

Behind China, Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of clothing in the world. Approximately 1,134 people died in Bangladesh in 2013 while 2,500 were injured in the deadliest disaster in the garment industry’s history.

As a result, an international accord was signed by more than 170 fashion brands which safety and worker health provisions beyond electrical, fire and structural inspections.

However, Levi’s is yet to sign the accord and the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation along with Remake have formed a partnership to pressure the company into doing so.

Also read | Bangladesh seeks bailout package from IMF as huge import bill takes toll on economy

‘The Guardian’ quoted Ayesha Barenblat, founder and CEO of Remake as saying “The newly expanded international accord looks beyond building safety. So it is really a lifeline and a way for workers to share any wellbeing or workplace concerns.”

“We abjectly push back on the alleged effectiveness of Levi’s own safety programme. The reason being that garment worker themselves have said – through Covid-19 [and] against the backdrop of the economic slowdown – their lives, and their wellbeing have simply been threatened and they do not have a direct line to the brands,” Barenblat said.

From sending emails to delivering letters, the activists have been trying their level best to fulfil their aim.

Raising issues of heat exhaustion and forced overtime, workers have also accused Levi’s of free-riding off the accord.

Citing several internal programmes and efforts, Levi’s denied and disputed all complaints from the campaign and allegations of worker safety and health issues.

“We agree with the intent and the spirit of the international accord and applaud the progress it has made. But it is not the only way to support workers in Bangladesh or anywhere else. We believe our programs, with their checks and balances, help us go further and give us greater agility to implement new learnings and expand our systems in other countries (which we are actively doing),” a spokesperson for Levi’s said.

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