The government has failed to approve a compliance protocol to bring the readymade garment factories, which are not positively responding to the remediation process, under regulation even in the last nine months.
At a government-ILO workshop on the governance of the Remediation Coordination Cell and the future of the industrial safety unit, held in August last year, the International Labour Organisation placed the draft compliance protocol for the RMG factories, which the stakeholders agreed in to adopt.
According to labour ministry officials, most of the RMG factories inspected under the national initiative were dilly-dallying to implement the corrective action plan as per the instruction of the relevant government bodies as there were no punitive measures for the units that fail in this regard.
The ILO included in the draft compliance protocol a six-stage escalation process: prescribing a warning meeting, issuing a first and then a second warning letter, suspension of the export licence and the Utilisation Declaration, giving a final notice before closure and issuing the factory closure order as per Section 61(2) of the labour law.
The high officials of the labour ministry had made a commitment that they would take initiatives to approve the protocol in order to ensure punitive measures against the errant factories.
Though the ministry had taken a preliminary initiative to finalise the draft protocol with some necessary changes but the process made no headway.
After receiving the draft, the officials concerned of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments said that the protocol would be helpful for the department to bring the factories under regulation in terms of fixing safety faults.
Besides, the DIFE held warning meetings and issued warning letters to the authorities of some deviant factories as per the draft protocol but the units did not pay heed to the warnings from the department.
As per Round-4 of the escalation process, the DIFE on September 20 issued separate letters to the presidents of the BGMEA and the BKMEA, asking them to stop providing UD to 219 non-compliant RMG factories in three weeks as the remediation progress in the units was not satisfactory.
The apex trade bodies, too, did not comply with the DIFE directive to halt issuing Utilisation Declaration to the non-compliant RMG units.
‘The labour ministry has agreed in principle to approve the protocol to ensure a time-bound remediation plan in the RMG factories and we are waiting for the next National Tripartite Committee meeting ,’ Syed Ahmed, additional secretary, labour ministry, told New Age on Saturday.
He said that the draft would be placed in the next NTC meeting and the stakeholders would approve it with necessary changes, if any, he added.
After the approval is obtained all parties would be obliged to comply with the protocol, Syed Ahmed went on.
Following the April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people, a total of 3,780 garment factories were assessed for safety under three initiatives – European retailers’ platform Accord, North American buyers’ platform Alliance and the government-led and ILO-supported national initiative.
Of the 3,780 garment factories, 1,549 were inspected under the national initiative. Of them, 531 were closed, 69 relocated and 193 transferred to Accord and Alliance lists.
The factories that fell under the national initiative have completed only 32 per cent of the stipulated remediation works, while a mere 11 factories have fixed 100 per cent safety faults, DIFE officials said.
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