Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of North American fashion brands and buyers, wants to hand over its safety programme in Bangladesh’s readymade garment factories to a local body that should be independent and credible.
‘We are in conversations now with International Labour Organisation, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh government and other stakeholders so that a credible, independent effort to monitor factory safety remains long after the Alliance is gone,’ Alliance executive director Jim Moriarty said at a press conference held at the Long Beach Suites in the capital on Wednesday.
He said that the Alliance would expire next year and its member brands would continue to do business with Bangladesh’s factories that would remain safe in future.
Moriarty said that Alliance-listed factories would be significantly safer when the platform would transition than the factories were in 2013 and a different strategy would be required to keep the factories safe in the future.
‘Our plan has always been to transition this work to local partners in 2018,’ Moriarty, also a former US ambassador to Bangladesh, said.
Independent body means there would be no outside force or interference in its decision-making process while it has to have technical capacity to be credible in making decision related to structural, fire and electrical safety issues, he explained.
At the press conference, the Alliance launched its fourth annual report on remediation progress.
According to the report, 85 per cent of the required safety flaws that included 80 per cent high priority safety issues have been fixed in the Alliance-listed factories.
It said that a total of 234 factories completed all required remediation prescribed in the corrective action plan while the platform suspended business relations with 162 factories due to their failure in implementing CAP.
The Alliance has so far inspected more than 700 RMG factories and currently the number of active factories under the platform is 658.
‘Our factories are demonstrably safer today than when the Alliance began — and the hard work that factory owners have undertaken since 2013 is now paying off, as hundreds of factories are reaching CAP closure,’ Moriarty said.
The Alliance is committed to transitioning its programme in a way that paves the way for sustainable progress beyond 2018, he said.
According to the fourth annual report, the Alliance formed safety committees in some 171 Alliance-listed factories and more than 13 lakh workers across 941 Alliance and non-Alliance factories have access to its confidential worker helpline.
More than 14 lakh workers and nearly 27,000 security guards received training on basic fire safety from the platform, the report said.
Moriarty said that the Alliance learned a great deal about creating a successful factory safety ecosystem over the past four years and the platform would transfer the knowledge to the government and local partners so that the gains could be sustained and carried forward by the people of Bangladesh.
Following the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 24, 2013, that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, North American buyers and retailers formed the Alliance and at the same time European brands and retailers formed Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh undertaking a five-year plan, which set timeframes and accountability for inspections, trainings and worker empowerment programmes.
The Accord has so far conducted safety inspections at more than 1,800 RMG factories from where its member brands procure products.
Recently, the Accord said that it would continue its safety programme in Bangladesh until a local regulatory body becomes fully capable of ensuring safety in the country’s garment factories, although the government has claimed that the group would leave by 2018.
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