The steering committee members of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh are due in Bangladesh next week to discuss the extension of the platform of European buyers and retailers with the government, readymade garment sector leaders and labour rights groups.
Bangladesh government and garment manufacturers have opposed the extension of Accord by three years and termed the platform’s decision unilateral. The Accord, which is engaged in Bangladesh’s RMG sector remediation process and whose current tenure expires in May next year, announced the extension in June this year.
Sources involved with the process said the representatives of signatory brands of the Accord and global trade unions would be in Dhaka and they would also meet the partners of Sustainability Compact.
The sources said the Accord steering committee would provide the latest status of their activities in the RMG sector in Bangladesh and also discuss the preparation and capacity of Bangladesh to take over the oversight of factory remediation beyond June, 2018.
They, however, declined to disclose any details about the coming meeting with the government but they said that the quarterly meeting of the steering committee of Accord would be held in October 16-18 in Dhaka.
The sources said that the steering committee members would discuss the progress of National Tripartite Plan of Action in a joint meeting with the government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association as the national initiative made progress less than 20 per cent in the area of factory remediation.
BGMEA leaders said that at a meeting with the Accord
steering committee on September 18 in Paris of France, all parties agreed to start an efficient transition process to ensure a sustainable scenario post June, 2018.
In case the smooth transition of handover of the responsibility of Accord to a national regularity authority does not happen by June, 2018, all the relevant stakeholders including the government will sit and discuss further course of action beyond 2018.
‘We will work towards an agreement on the conditions under which the Accord would be able to hand over its functions to a national regulatory body, on the basis that until such conditions are met, the Accord will continue to operate,’ the BGMEA said in a declaration over the Paris meeting.
Mohammed Nasir, vice-president of the BGMEA, told New Age that the Accord steering committee agreed to work with the BGMEA for an efficient transition process in order to support and advise the government of Bangladesh in the development of a national regulatory body.
‘The stance of the BGMEA and the government is clear that we will not allow any unilateral extension of Accord or Alliance in Bangladesh,’ he said.
Following the Rana Plaza collapse in April, 2013 that claimed lives of more than 1,100 workers, global unions, non-governmental organisations and EU brands formed the Accord while North American retailers formed the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety undertaking a five-year plan which set timeframes and accountability for inspections and training and workers’ empowerment programmes.
Accord engineers carried out fire, electrical and structural safety inspections at more than 1,800 factories, identifying 1,18,500 hazards while Alliance inspection teams inspected 759 factories.
At the end of June this year, EU fashion brands and retailers and global union federations announced a new deal named Accord 2018, stating that the new Accord would carry on the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’s remediation activities in the Bangladesh’s RMG sector after May next year when the current Accord expires.
The new agreement has so far been signed by 25 leading fashion brands including Kmart Australia, Target Australia, Primark, H&M, Inditex (Zara), C&A, Otto, KiK, Aldi South, Aldi North, Lidl, Tchibo and LC Waikiki.
The government also expressed its dissatisfaction over the decision of EU brands for extending Accord for three years.
Opposing any extension of Accord and Alliance, country’s apparel exporters have planned a new initiative that will include the government, BGMEA, International Labour Organisation, trade unions and global brands to replace the buyers’ platforms.
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