International Arbitration Case Report: IndustriAll Global Union and UNI Global Union v. Respondent A (PCA CASE No. 2016-36) and IndustriAll Global Union and UNI Global Union v. Respondent B (PCA CASE No. 2016-37) - WAMR 2017 Vol. 11, No. 2
TRIBUNAL MEMBERS: Mr. Donald Francis Donovan (President), Mr. Graham Dunning QC, and Prof. Hans Petter Graver.
The Bangladesh Accord was signed in 2013 after the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex where several thousand workers died. This agreement covers millions of workers in Bangladesh’s garment factories and it is the first legally-binding agreement requiring fashion brands to help their contractors eliminate fire and structural safety issues. The following two cases are the first cases that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has presided over under the Bangladesh Accord. These cases are important because they show that the Bangladesh Accord is alive and well. They are proof that the accord provides legal mechanisms to ensure that all signature brands contribute to make work safer in Bangladesh.
A. Relevant Facts and Procedural History
IndustriALL Global Union (“IndustriALL”) and UNI Global Union (“UNI”) (collectively “Claimants”) are both global union federations headquartered in Switzerland. In 2016, Claimants commenced two arbitration proceedings pursuant to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety of 15 May 2013 (“Accord”).
The Respondents (“Respondent A” and “Respondent B”) in both of these arbitration proceedings are global fashion brands. Claimants and Respondents (collectively “Parties”) are signatories of the Accord. Claimants brought a claim against each Respondent pursuant to the Accord, alleging Respondents violated Articles 12 and 22 of the Accord. These claims were based on Respondents’ failure to meet the Accord's requirements, which are: (1) to require suppliers to remediate facilities within the mandatory deadlines imposed by the Accord; and (2) to negotiate commercial terms to make it financially feasible for their suppliers to cover the costs of remediation.