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Kik commits to Pakistan Accord

By Simone Preuss


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The Bangladesh Accord has improved conditions; here garment workers at LEED-certified factory Green Smart Shirts Ltd. in Gazipur. Photo: Sumit Suryawanshi for FashionUnited.

In view of fires and industrial accidents in Pakistan's garment and textile factories, calls for a Pakistan Accord are growing louder. This would be an extension of the International Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, which Pakistani garment trade unions have been calling for since 2018.

It is based on the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which was launched in 2013 and, together with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and local initiatives, has led to the complete rehabilitation of the country's garment industry in just ten years. The facts speak for themselves: since the Accord's inception, Bangladesh has had no major accidents in the garment and textile industry.

Now it looks as if the independent, legally binding agreement will also be reached in Pakistan, as the experts entrusted with the negotiations expect an agreement to be reached soon. The first clothing companies have also announced their support, among them German textile discounter Kik.

Kik commits as first signatory

Kik CEO Patrick Zahn, who was recently on an inspection tour in Pakistan, welcomed the imminent conclusion of negotiations and announced that his company would be one of the first to sign the agreement.

“Over the past five years, through our 'Pakistan Building Safety Initiative', we have already achieved a great deal in the areas of fire protection and electrical safety. With the Accord Pakistan, we can work with many other stakeholders to ensure better standards in textile production,” commented Zahn in a statement, also noting its importance and necessity in relation to the new supply chain law.

The company already has substantial experience in Pakistan due to the building safety initiative Kik set up in 2017. The South Asian country is one of the most important exporters of textiles after Bangladesh. Zahn is therefore calling on factory owners, unions and brands and retailers involved in the agreement “to put aside their own interests before reaching the goal and to bring about a rapid and comprehensive solution in the interests of thousands of garment workers”.

To emphasise his demand, Zahn pledged his company and signed a memorandum of understanding with local stakeholders on Thursday in the presence of German consul general Rüdiger Lotzein.

“I welcome the fact that we are close to a breakthrough with the Accord. I appeal to all those involved to now quickly clear the way. With the planned safety training, grievance mechanisms and health committees, we can reach over one million textile workers in 700 factories,” said Zahn.

The textile and garment industry in Pakistan employs around 4.2 million workers - a large proportion (2.2 million people) of whom manufacture garments; 1.8 million textiles, and 200,000 are employed in the footwear and leather industries.

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