Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association is in the lookout for ways to monitor safety issues of garment factories after the expiry of timeframe of two global retailers’ initiatives doing the job in July 2018.
The trade body has sought opinion of its directors on the issue as both the government and the garment sector are reluctant about extension of safety initiatives by North American buyers group, Alliance, and European buyers group, Accord.
The BGMEA board will discuss the issue at a meeting to be held on October 29.
‘We informed the agenda of safety issue to our directors so that they can come up with their opinions on the issue for formulating a strategy for post-assessment monitoring after the exit of Alliance and Accord,’ the BGMEA vice president Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu told New Age.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, in April 2013, North American retailers, including top brands like Walmart and Gap, formed the Alliance and European retailers formed the Accord undertaking a five-year plan which set timelines and accountability for safety inspections and training and workers’ empowerment programmes.
The Accord has so far conducted initial inspections at 1600 factories while Alliance inspected 759 factories.
At the same time, under National Action Plan, the government with the
collaboration of ILO inspected about 1,500 factories.
During the inspection, a total of 148 factories were sent to the government-set review panel for the decision as the inspection teams found critical safety lapses in the units.
Out of 148 factories, the review committee comprising representatives from the government, Accord, Alliance, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and BGMEA shut 37 factories while partially closed 42 units.
The Alliance, in its third annual report released this month, said that 55 per cent of its listed factories had completed high-priority repairs. But the listed factories finished 63 per cent of all required repairs, it said.
The platform also asked its supplier RMG factories to conclude high-priority safety repairs by July 2018 to avoid suspension from the list of compliant suppliers of the group.
In a recent report, Accord said that approximately 67 per cent of safety hazards from initial inspections have been corrected in its supplier factories.
Due to failure to make required progress in remediation, the Alliance so far has cut business relations with 104 supplier factories and Accord has terminated business ties with 41 factories.
‘Once the timeframe of Accord and Alliance would end, we should formulate an internationally acceptable strategy to continue the post-inspection monitoring in the RMG sector,’ Babu said.
The BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman said that they would discuss the issue in the meeting of board of directors and next course of action would be taken based on the recommendations of the board.
‘I think the Accord and Alliance would leave Bangladesh after the expiry of its timeframe and government bodies would take the responsibility of monitoring,’ he said.
Siddiq said that now Bangladesh can develop expertise to build international standard factory buildings and the government bodies including RAJUK, Fire Service and Civil Defence and the factory inspection department, are more capable to monitor the industry.
After the expiry of the initiative of Accord and Alliance, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments would oversee the inspection side and social compliance would be monitored by the buyers, Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the DIFE said.
He said that government should form an authority comprising structural engineers to oversee the structural integrity of the factory buildings.
He, however, hoped that the capacity of DIFE would be increased more in next two years and it would be possible to continue follow up inspection in the RMG factories if the government trained engineers on remediation.
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