Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, a consortium of North American fashion brands and buyers, on Thursday asked its supplier RMG factories in Bangladesh to conclude high priority safety repairs by July 2018 to avoid suspension from the list of compliant suppliers of the group.
To date, 55 per cent of Alliance listed factories have completed high-priority repairs while 63 per cent of all required repairs have been completed in the factories, James F Moriarty, country director of Alliance said in a teleconference during releasing the third annual report of the platform.
In the report, Alliance said that the platform was working with factories to prioritize the most critical repairs—those that are most important for life safety and time-consuming for factories to achieve—including the import and installation of fire doors, the reinforcement of structural beams and columns, and the installation of sprinkler systems.
The Alliance report reflected significant progress toward its goal of leaving the industry substantially safer as a result of the initiative saying that there were 250 garment factory fires in Bangladesh in 2012—an average of five fires per week—taking the lives of 115 people. But in last year there were just 30 such fires in garment factories, none of which resulted in death.
‘By July 2018, all Alliance factories will have either completed their high-priority repairs or have been suspended from the Alliance’s list of suppliers,’ said Ellen Tauscher, independent chair of the Alliance.
She said that progress toward this goal has been significant, and achieving closure on the remaining issues most critical to life safety remains our primary focus.
The Alliance launched an initiative with the Better Work Program of the International Labour Organisation to pilot democratically-elected Safety Committees in 16 factories in April and now the number of committee reached to 54.
It hoped that the safety committees will be operational in a majority of
Alliance factories by July 2018.
‘Achieving safety in factories is about more than completing repairs. It must be accompanied by comprehensive efforts to inform, engage and empower the women and men who earn their living in garment factories,’ said Moriarty.
By approaching remediation and empowerment hand in hand, Alliance is working to set the gold standard for garment factories throughout Bangladesh, he said.
According to the third annual report of Alliance, initial inspections have been conducted in Alliance listed 759 RMG factories including those shared and executed under agreement with the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, another initiative of European buyers and retailers.
The Alliance completed its first verification inspections in 571 factories while second verification in 466 and third verification in 295 factories.
A total of 40 factories (included the factories that completed their Corrective Action Plan under the Accord program) achieved substantial completion of remediation work while 97 factories were suspended from the list of compliant factories for failure to make sufficient remediation progress.
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 undertaking a five-year plan which set timelines and accountability for inspections and training and workers’ empowerment programmes.
The Alliance report said that with an ever-increasing global demand for Bangladeshi garment exports, the platform continued its commitment and efforts to drive positive and sustainable safety changes in Bangladesh.
‘Despite the challenges that lie ahead, the significant worker safety improvements in Alliance factories over the past three years strengthened our conviction that the ongoing work of the Alliance will create a safer and brighter tomorrow for the millions working in the garment industry,’ the report said.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Business