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.
The tragic human rights situation currently unfolding in Myanmar holds particular significance to our Sustainability Analyst Georgina. Please read Georgie’s poignant thoughts on her visit to the camp, our expectations on our portfolio companies in regard to Myanmar, and why Ethical Partners has recently signed on to the Investor Statement on Human Rights and Business Activities in Myanmar.
As members of the Investor Group on Climate Change, Ethical Partners Funds Management strongly endorses its new roadmap released today in conjunction with the CDP and the Principles for Responsible Investment. It is entitled: "Confusion to clarity: A plan for mandatory TCFD-aligned disclosure in Australia".
During May 2021 the Fund returned 1.56% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 2.31%, underperforming the market by -0.75%. An underweight position in IT and an overweight position in Westpac contributed to relative performance while an overweight position in Consumer Staples and an underweight position in CBA detracted from relative performance.