The $19bn garment industry in Bangladesh is unfortunately well known for the appalling conditions for its workers. The Rana Plaza Factory which collapsed in 2013, taking with it the lives of more than 1,100 garment workers was unfortunately only one of many disasters that have occurred. Factories are often dangerous, overcrowded, poorly ventilated and unsanitary, and the conditions for workers are often exploitative and abusive. In order to begin to address these issues, The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord was designed in 2013. This accord was a comprehensive independent agreement to make garment factories in Bangladesh safer, made by over 200 brands and retailers, two global trade unions and eight Bangladeshi garment unions. The accord, which is enforced by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), includes mandatory, independent inspections of buildings, mandatory repairs and renovations with financial support from the brands and increased access to workers’ unions for all factory staff. Factories’ safety committees receive training, complaints systems have been set up and safety inspections have been conducted in more than 1600 factories since 2013. In 2018 this agreement expired and was replaced by a new 2018 Accord on Fire and Building safety in Bangladesh. Australian NGO’s and lobby groups such as Oxfam have been instrumental in campaigning Australia’s largest garment manufacturers to sign up to this accord, with many brands such as Kmart, Target, Big W, Cotton On, Forever New, Specialty Fashion and Just Group having signed. Unfortunately, there are still several large Australian brands that are still to sign the accord, and Ethical Partners looks forward to being part of the conversation with these brands, where able, and supporting our NGO panel in their calls for these companies to sign.
During September 2020 the Fund returned -3.40% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of -3.60%, outperforming by 0.20% (after fees). Overweight positions in Insurance stocks and an underweight position in Construction stocks and Healthcare detracted from performance while overweight positions in Industrials (specifically Building Products) and underweight positions in Information Technology and Energy contributed to performance
Emma McCarthy recently joined Ethical Partners. Emma is a passionate final year law student and joins us as Sustainability and Advocacy Assistant. We are honoured to share with you her reflections on the recent UN Global Compact conference, and how it inspired her, as a new recruit to the global sustainability and human rights community, on her journey to fight for change.
During August 2020 the Fund returned 4.10% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 3.05%, outperforming by 1.05% (after fees). Overweight positions in Consumer Staples and Industrials added to performance while stocks in General Insurance and Building Products detracted from performance.
It appears that the Australian economy will be asked to grow itself out of debt post COVID rather than experience an increase in taxes once the economy is more stable. So what are the long term projects that would change Australia for the better? It was quite timely indeed then that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently released its 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP). It appears to us that AEMO has put down the framework for how Australia will operate with less coal fired electricity generation given we have an aging fleet which will be gradually de-commissioned over the next 20 years.The AEMO Plan is a whole of system blueprint for the evolution and change the electricity market will experience in the 20 years to 2040. It expects 63% of the current coal fired power stations to close by then based on company disclosures and end of life assumptions. Herein lies Australia's great stimulus opportunity.