June 06, 2017
The Human Thread is delighted that the first 13 global companies (with many more pending and expected) and two global unions have agreed on a 2nd Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The new agreement will enter into effect when the current Accord expires in May 2018. The Accord is an unprecedented, legally binding agreement between companies and trade unions to make factories in Bangladesh safe. While much remains to be done, the original Accord has been an important vehicle for improving workplace safety.
The original Accord was signed in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster and would last five years.
In addition to the brands and the two unions, the agreement also has four non-governmental labor rights organizations as “witness signatories.” Sarah Newell, Campaigns Associate at the International Labor Rights Forum, one of the witness signatory organizations, said:
The renewal of the Accord is based on clear evidence that this model, where companies take active responsibility for the safety and rights of workers in their supply chains, works. As we saw with the first Accord, it will take consumer pressure for brands and retailers to commit to making these changes. If as much progress is to be made in the next four years as in the past four, it’ll take conscientious consumers supporting workers by urging brands who source clothing from Bangladesh to sign onto the new Accord and follow through on their commitments.
Here at The Human Thread, we agree Ms. Newell, and we want to underscore the importance of “conscientious consumers” in advancing worker safety, rights, and wages.
For more information, Reuters covered the new Accord here. A press release from the Accord is here. The full text of the agreement is available here. ILRF’s statement on the renewal is found here. The four witness signatories’ statement is found here. The statement from ICCR is available here.
June 06, 2017
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
Few priests may recall more than this one quotation from St. Irenaeus, and it is a gem. St. Irenaeus comes a distinguished family tree of disciples. See, St. Irenaeus, as a lad, heard St. Polycarp preach in his hometown of Smyrna (in modern day Turkey). In fact, St. Polycarp was his bishop. Polycarp, as a young man, was a disciple who cared for St. John the Evangelist in his old age. St. Irenaeus then was born somewhere around the year 130, raised in a Christian home, a rather uncommon occurrence in that era. By the time of the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161–180, Irenaeus was a priest in Lyons (now modern day France). While Irenaeus was away delivering a letter to Pope Eleuterus, the bishop of Lyons and others were killed. Upon his return, he became bishop of Lyons, a position that he would hold until his death. Though the details are unclear, St. Irenaeus died around the year 200, most likely as a martyr himself.
Adversus Haereses (Against the Heresies), St. Irenaeus’ theological masterpiece, is much more than a refutation of the major objections to Christian faith in his time. Alongside De trinitate of St. Augustine and the Summa theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, it is one of the most impressive expressions of Christian doctrine in the history of the church. That oft-cited quotation from St. Irenaeus is from the fourth book of the Adversus Haereses: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
Martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero added:
Gloria Dei, vivens pauper.
The glory of God is the poor person fully alive.
Why is such a phrase so significant? Every person—regardless of gender, race, age, nationality, religion, or economic status—deserves respect. Enshrined within Catholic Social teaching, our dignity does not come from what we have or what we do; it comes from being God’s special creation. When a person is fully alive God shines through. The person lives as a child of God – a person who is to be loved as we love God. The human person fully alive lives with joy, with dignity. Contrast that “human being fully alive” with the conditions within which so many garment workers struggle: illegally low wages, intimidation, and abuse (verbal, physical, sexual, among others). Yesterday’s release of the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. State Department says that we have much to do. For example:
If we genuinely believe that “The glory of God is a human being fully alive” then we must act for full human flourishing. We cannot be satisfied with cheap clothes at the expense of suffering garment workers. St. Irenaeus made that clear a long time ago, and, for that reason, St. Irenaeus is a saint for garment justice.
It is not you that shapes God
it is God that shapes you.
If you are the work of God
await the loving hand of the artist
who does all things in due season.
Offer Him your heart,
soft and tractable,
and keep the form
in which the artist has fashioned you.
Let your clay be moist,
lest you grow hard
and lose the imprint of his fingers.
– St. Irenaeus
June 06, 2017
Everyone’s existence is tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 15, 2017
We strongly agree. Globalized indifference blinds us to The Human Thread that weaves us together. #WhoMadeMyClothes
June 06, 2017
We know that zero transparency results in zero accountability in supply chains. Dispersed global supplies chains, without transparency, facilitates passing the buck on the human rights and worker safety.
Fashion Revolution, an organization born, like The Human Thread, after the Rana Plaza disaster, is doing great work in popularizing concern about human rights and worker safety in the garment industry. Recently, Fashion Revolution released its “Fashion Transparency Index 2017,” which reviews and ranks 100 of the biggest global fashion and apparel brands and retailers according to how much information they disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies and practices, and social and environmental impact. This tool is a useful assessment of how various brands are doing.
You can view the document here.