105 RMG units facing closure over safety faults

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Sep 27,2019


One hundred and five readymade garment factories inspected under ILO-supported national initiative are going to face closure as the units have failed to make any progress in fixing safety faults.

At the same time, 197 more RMG factories might face export licence suspension as the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments has taken a move to send letters to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the bond commissionerate requesting them to stop providing utilisation declaration and suspend bond licence to the companies for non-compliance.

According to the recent data disclosed by the Remediation Coordination Cell, the National Tripartite Committee at its 15th meeting held on July 31 at the labour ministry approved an Escalation Protocol to expedite remediation works in the RMG factories inspected under the national initiative.

As of September 19 this year, 393 factories remained at Round-3 (factories which received warning letters), 197 at Round-4 (factories whose export licences are suspended) and 105 factories reached Round-5 (factories which received closure notice) under the Escalation Protocol, the RCC data showed.

‘We have hold meeting with the owners of the Round-5 factories in last month and informed them about the factory closure. We have also sent the list of Round-5 factories to the DIFE as the department is responsible to issue closure notice to the units,’ AKM Salehuddin, project director of the RCC, told New Age on Thursday.

He said that the DIFE had also sit with the factory owners this month and few factories got one week and few got two weeks to start remediation work and to avert factory closure.

According to the Escalation Protocol, after becoming a Round 5 factory, the factory owners will be notified to meet the inspector general of DIFE in presence of the representatives of respective employers’ association and labour organisation where he/she will be given a final warning letter to start remediation within two weeks.

If the factory still remains non-compliance or postpones work any time, it will be escalated to the Round 6 and the DIFE would issue a closure order to the factory, the protocol said.

‘Despite holding repeated meetings, the factory authorities failed to make any progress in implementing corrective action plan in their units and DIFE has decided to issue closure notice to the factories,’ Farid Ahmed, joint inspector general of the DIFE, told New Age on Sunday.

Before issuing the letter, the department would sit once again with the factory owners and the DIFE has already sat with the factory owners in Gazipur in the second week of this month, he said.

Earlier on September 20, 2018, the inspection department issued separate letters to the BGMEA and the BKMEA, asking the trade bodies to stop providing utilisation declaration to 219 non-compliant RMG units as the remediation progress in those units was not satisfactory.

Of them, 134 units were members of the BGMEA and 74 were members of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

Responding to the letter from the department, the BGMEA stopped issuing utilisation declaration to 51 factories.

The BKMEA sources said 74 units were shut due to lack of work orders.

The RCC officials said they had prepared a fresh list of 197 RMG factories which reached the Round 4.

The RCC sent the list to the DIFE to issue letters to respective trade bodies and the bond commissionerate requesting to stop providing utilisation declaration and suspend bond license to the companies for non-compliance, officials said.

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.

According to the government data, the factories that fell under the national initiative completed 38 per cent of structural, 39 per cent of electrical and 34 per cent of fire remediation.

It also showed that 16 buildings housing 17 factories completed 100 per cent remediation.

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