More than 180 European brands which signed the 2018 Transition Accord have warned that if the Bangladesh government goes for a premature shut down of the Accord leaving workers in unsafe working conditions, the brands might reconsider sourcing decisions.
‘The premature shut down of the Accord, leaving workers in unsafe circumstances, would jeopardise the brands’ ability to source from a safe industry and may make them reconsider sourcing decisions and review the reputational risk of Bangladesh as a sourcing country,’ the Accord said in a press release on July 31.
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 on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to oversee workplace safety and workers’ rights in the factories from where the Accord signatories procure products.
The five-year timeframe of Accord ended in May this year and the government then extended its tenure by six more months as transitional period.
Citing observations of the fourth review meeting of the Sustainability Compact held on June 25 in Brussels, the Accord statement said that representatives from EU, US and Canadian governments, European Parliament’s members, International Labour Organisation and Accord signatory brands and unions urged the Bangladesh government to ensure that the Accord operations continue until the Remediation Coordination Cell is deemed ready by the multi-stakeholder Transition Monitoring Committee.
‘It is in the crucial interest of the signatories to the Accord that the work of remediation which started in May 2013 is completed and
a sustainable and adequate national regulatory structure is implemented by the Bangladesh Government to regulate workplace safety in the Bangladeshi garment industry.’ The Accord said.
It said that the Accord had made substantial progress to achieve the safety of workers in Bangladesh’s RMG sector but the work was not yet completed and the national structure was not yet prepared to credibly take over the work of the Accord.
According to the Accord statement, a solution towards the 2018 Transition Accord was achieved in October 2017 through meetings of the Bangladesh government, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and brand and union signatory representatives of the 2018 TA.
‘Through this solution, Accord operations would continue in Bangladesh beyond May 2018 and a Transition Monitoring Committee, with representatives of the GoB, BGMEA, Accord signatory brands and unions, and the ILO, would be established to assess the preparedness of the national remediation structure to sustainably take over the work of the Accord,’ the platform said.
Only when this assessment body deems the RCC ready to take over responsibilities for the safety of workers based on previously agreed objective criteria the Accord should wind down its activities, the Accord said.
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