Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of European buyers and retailers, is going to start its work as Transition Accord from June 1 and it would continue its operation until a national body becomes fully ready to take over the responsibility of readymade garment factory safety monitoring from the buyers’ platform.
Country’s apparel makers and EU retailers’ group at a joint press conference on Thursday said that the Bangladesh government had already agreed to extend its permission to the Accord to work beyond May, 2018 as the five-year timeframe of the platform ends on May 15 this year.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturing and Exporters Association and the Accord jointly organised the press conference at the BGMEA Apparel Club in Dhaka.
‘This week, the government of Bangladesh confirmed it will extend the permission of the Accord to work beyond May, 2018,’ said Accord steering committee member Adward David Southall.
The government on March 15 established a joint Transition Monitoring Committee comprising of representatives of Accord brands, global trade unions, BGMEA, International Labour Organisation and the government for the purpose of determining when the agreed conditions for a handover of the Accord work to a fully-functional and competent national regulatory body are met.
The conditions include demonstrated proficiency in inspection capacity, remediation of hazards, enforcement of the law against non-compliant factories, full transparency of governance and remediation progress, and investigation and fair
resolution of workers’ safety complaints.
Southall, also the chief human resources officer of LC Waikiki — a global brand, said that the TMC in a meeting on May 6 determined that the national body was yet to meet the criteria agreed by the Accord and the BGMEA and recognised by the Bangladesh government.
‘The Accord is pleased that the BGMEA supports the start of the 2018 Transition Accord on June 1 and to continue until these criteria are met,’ he said.
BGMEA president Md Siddiqur Rahman said that the government had extended the timeframe of Accord by six months as the readiness of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments was almost complete to take over the factory safety monitoring responsibility from the buyers’ platform.
The government has formed Remediation Coordination Cell under the DIFE to take over factory safety monitoring and hopefully the RCC would be capable within a short time, he said.
Replying to a question, the BGMEA president said that the Accord would continue its operation until the RCC became fully capable to look into the safety monitoring in the factory.
Following the Rana Plaza building collapse in April, 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people mostly garment workers, EU brands and retailers and two global unions formed the Accord to oversee the workplace safety and workers’ rights in the factories from where the Accord signatories procure products.
‘The Accord recognises the extraordinary progress that has been made over the last five years to improve fire and building safety in the Bangladeshi RMG industry. The overall progress rate of remediation at the 1,620 Accord-covered factories is 85 per cent,’ another Accord steering committee member Jenny Holdcroft said.
Due to the efforts from Accord, millions of workers now work in safer factories and Bangladesh’s garment factories benefit materially, because buyers recognise that a factory that has completed its safety work presents far fewer risks for them, she said.
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