BGMEA-Accord meeting ends without decisions

Hasina urges China businesses to increase trade, investment

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Beijing

A meeting between the country’s garment makers and the European retailers’ group to discuss factory inspection and workers’ compensation issues has failed to reach any decision as the retailers’ group showed indifference to the demands put forward by the BGMEA.
The meeting was held in the city last week.
Since the beginning of the factory inspection by the retailers’ groups — Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of the European Union retailers, and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a group of North American retailers — country’s garment factory owners have been raising question about some terms and conditions set by the retailers.
The garment factory owners have also been demanding solution to the issues like compensation for the workers of the factories which have faced closure due to the safety inspection, remediation financing to the factory owners, standard of concrete strength and duplication of inspection.
Recently Accord has decided that it would hold a meeting with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in every month over the ongoing safety inspection as there is no representative of the trade body in the Accord board, sector leaders said.
‘On June 5, in the first bilateral meeting we discussed 10 points that included workers compensation, remediation financing and timeframe and standard of concrete strength and put forward our demands to Accord. But the meeting did not bring any fruitful result,’ BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age on Saturday.
He said that the BGMEA urged Accord to share a portion of wages the garment owners would have to pay its workers due to factory closer after safety inspection and also demanded to resolve the issues of remediation financing and timeframe.
In the meeting, the BGMEA demanded that Accord should relax some inspection standards and consider the strength of existing concrete (brick) at 2,100 pound per square inch instead of 1,700 PSI.
‘We have urged Accord to avoid duplication of inspection in the factories those are on the lists of both Accord and Alliance. Alliance has already declared that its inspection team would not go any factory inspected by Accord but Accord is yet to resolve the issue,’ the BGMEA vice-president said.
Accord Bangladesh operation executive director Rob Wayss could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.
In the June 5 meeting, garment manufacturers also demanded that Accord should not conduct third party audit of the factories during inspection, to share inspection reports with the National Tripartite Committee for ensuring follow-up, harmonise worker’ training programme as per the local law and harmonise inspection reporting structure.
Meeting sources said as per the Accord’s article 23, the BGMEA demanded not to pull out or reduce work orders from the factories located in shared buildings for the next two years.
In the wake of last year’s Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers, mostly women garment workers, North American apparel companies, retailers and brands formed Alliance and EU retailers formed Accord to improve safety in Bangladeshi RMG factories.
Starting from February this year the two initiatives inspected more than 1,000 garment factories out of their listed over 2,300 factories so far.
A total of 20 factories have so far become closed due to structural faults detected by the inspection teams of the retailers’ group and the closure left more than 12,000 workers jobless.

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