RMG UNIT INSPECTION

Second phase of govt-sponsored scheme yet to start in 6 months

Moinul Haque
A file photo shows a woman passing by a readymade garment unit in the capital. The government has failed to start the 2nd phase of its safety inspection to the RMG factories even after six months of the competition of the first phase of the assessment. — New Age photo

A file photo shows a woman passing by a readymade garment unit in the capital. The government has failed to start the 2nd phase of its safety inspection to the RMG factories even after six months of the competition of the first phase of the assessment. — New Age photo

The government has failed to start the 2nd phase of its safety inspection to the readymade garment factories even after six months of the competition of the first phase of the assessment due to some technical and procedural complexities.
Even the remediation programme at the factories where the government teams found safety risk during the 1st phase of the inspection has not started as the factory owners are yet to get the assessment reports.
In the aim of ensuring fire and building safety in the RMG sector, the government in association with the International Labour Organisation on November 22 last year started formal inspection to the factories which are not on the inspection lists published by EU Accord and North American Alliance.
In the first phase of the inspection, experts of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology inspected fire, electrical and structural safety in 200 factories by January.
After the completion of the 1st phase of the inspection, it took 3-4 months the process of preparing reports as per the requirement of the ILO.
Although the BUET prepared the reports on 200 inspected units by January, an ILO-appointed consultancy agency asked the BUET to review the reports further and wanted colour mark grading depending on the risk factors.
The BUET submitted the reports to the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments at the end of May.
The garment manufacturers said that the government is yet to provide the reports to the factories concerned and owners could not start remediation programme.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on June 26 wrote a letter to the DIFE requesting it to send inspection reports to the factories concerned so that owners could start necessary correction work.
Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the DIFE, told New Age that they had started sending reports to the factory owners from July 1 and all of the reports would be sent to the respective factories within a week.
Some technical and procedural complexities over the inspection standard, structure of inspection report and approval of the ILO programme had arise during the inspection that caused delay in the starting of the 2nd phase of the inspection, people involved with the process told New Age.
A labour ministry high official said that the complexities had been removed and the work for the next phase would start within a short period of time.
A BUET expert, however, said that they were committed to carry out the safety inspection but the ILO was yet to sign any agreement for the 2nd phase.
The government-sponsored inspection programme is being implemented under a three-and-a-half-year ILO initiative ‘improving working conditions in the readymade garment sector’ to ensure fire, electrical and building safety and to ensure fundamental rights of workers in the apparel industry in Bangladesh.
A government official said that the project had to wait for long time for getting approval from the Economic Relations Division and it was one of the reasons for the delay in starting the 2nd phase.
He said that the disagreement over the standard of concrete strength between the BUET and foreign experts and non-completion of previous reports in time were also lingering the process.
‘The complexities have almost been removed. The ERD approved the project and experts resolved the technical issues and we are hopeful that the 2nd phase of the inspection will start within short time,’ labour secretary Mikail Shipar told New Age.
Srinivas B Reddy, country director of the ILO, said that the process of launching the 2nd phase of the inspection was well under way and was expected to start very soon.
‘There is no issue with the fund disbursement for the assessment carried out by the BUET. Adequate fund is available for the payment of assessments. The 2nd phase of the inspection for which the term of reference is at the final stage, will begin as soon as contractual arrangements are completed,’ he said.
Reddy informed that the issue of PSI was being discussed and all three initiatives (BUET, Accord and Alliance) had agreed on PSI for brick and stone aggregate.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse on April 24, 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people, the retailers and apparel brands from the EU and North America separately formed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety Initiative.
Both the initiatives started their inspection to the RMG factories in Bangladesh from February this year.
Accord published a list of around 1,600 factories while Alliance a list of around 620 apparel units for inspection.
At the same time the government of Bangladesh and the ILO started a three-and-a-half year initiative aimed at improving working conditions in the readymade garment industry.
This $24.21-million programme is funded by Canada, Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement