Alliance slams Accord for rejecting inspection by individual brand

Staff Correspondent

The Alliance, a platform of North American retailers’ group, has termed the European retailers’ group’s announcement of rejecting inspection in common factories by individual retailers in Alliance as ‘a setback for garment factory safety efforts in Bangladesh’.
Allen Tauscher, the chair of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, in a statement said the European retailers’ group Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh made the decision of rejecting the inspection of individual retailers based on incorrect information.
Allen’s comments came following an Accord statement which said that the retailers’ group would not accept inspection of common garment factories by individual members of Alliance.
The Accord also said that they would also scrutinise the inspection of common factories by Alliance which it conducted by appointing engineers.
There are around 340 garment factories which are common suppliers to the American and European retailers and individual retailers like Walmart, VS Corporation and GAP completed inspection of more than half of the factories.
Alliance has showed that it completed inspection of 600 factories including the factories inspected by its individual members.
Accord has listed 1,600 including 340 common factories for inspection.
About the common factories, Allen said, ‘From the beginning, we have advocated a joint approach to develop a protocol and understanding for shared factories to ensure that safety standards are met without subjecting workers and owners to duplicate inspections.’
She said although Accord announced to reject the inspection by the Alliance members, the Accord itself had accepted inspections conducted by an Accord member brand.
Allen also criticised the Accord move to scrutinise the inspection reports of Alliance.
‘The Accord indicated that they have “methodological concerns” with Alliance inspection reports, yet they have never raised these concerns with us, despite our interaction on the ground in Bangladesh and the fact that we shared our inspection protocols with the Accord many months ago — without receiving the Accord’s in return.’
She said that all inspections conducted by North American brands met the harmonised safety standard agreed to by the Alliance, the Accord and the National Tripartite Committee that also included Bangladesh government representatives.
Allen said the majority of these inspections were carried out by qualified audit firms that had been retained and
overseen by Alliance staff.
A minority of these inspections began prior to alignment on a harmonised safety standard by firms retained by a small number of member brands.
To validate the finding of the inspections that began prior to alignment on a harmonised standard follow-up visits by one of the approved Alliance firms have been included to ensure that the report was in keeping with the Alliance equivalency requirements, the Alliance chief said.
‘We determined that existing inspections conducted by three Alliance members could be supplemented to meet Alliance standards and procedures. Other inspections that did not meet the harmonised standard were required by the Alliance to be re-inspected,’ she said.
Allen invited the Accord for creating a joint advisory board to achieve the common long-term goals like permanent transformation and improvement of the entire Bangladesh garment industry.
After the Rana Plaza factory collapse on April 24, 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, Western retailers and apparel brands, reacting to public outrage, began a major push to improve safety at the Bangladeshi factories they do business with.
But instead of joining forces, the Western brands have divided into two sometimes feuding camps — a result, some say, detracts from the overall effort, reported New York Times.
Accord has more than 160 members, including many European brands like H&M, Carrefour and Mango, as well as 14 American companies and there are more than 166 garment factories on their inspection list.
The Alliance includes 26 companies, all of them American or Canadian. Walmart, Gap, Target and Kohl’s are among the members of the group.

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