The government once again extended the deadline for up to six months for completing remediation works in readymade garment factories which were being inspected under the joint initiative of the Bangladesh government and the International Labour Organisation.
In a meeting with the factory owners on Wednesday and Thursday at the office of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, the labour ministry extended remediation deadline from 2-6 months for the factories.
The department and the labour ministry held meeting with the authorities of 323 RMG factories in Dhaka, Narsingdi, Mymensingh, Tangail, Gazipur, and Narayanganj, which were on stage 3 of escalation protocol and faced postponement of licence renewal from the department.
‘We have segregated factories that have acceptable causes to get extension of time for remediation from the factories which do not have such causes,’ labour secretary KM Ali Azam told New Age on Thursday.
He said utilisation declaration would be cancelled for the factories in which remediation progress was negligible.
There were some other factories in which progress was on and the meeting decided to allow them 2-6 more months to complete works, Ali Azam said.
‘The government does not want to close down any factory but all the units will have to ensure workplace safety to run their business,’ he said.
The department officials said the meeting decided to allow six more months for the factories having 10-20 utilisation declarations a year and 2-4 more months for the factories having more than 20 utilisation declarations a year.
BGMEA president Rubana Huq, Bangladesh University of Engendering and Technology professor Mehedi Ahmed Ansary and Kais Zaman, among others were attended the meeting.
After completing the initial inspections in September, 2015, the authorities of RMG factories listed under the national initiative continue ignoring DIFE notice to expedite factory remediation and the government had increased time frame again and again without taking any action.
Earlier, the government had set April 30, 2018 as the deadline for completing the factory remediation works but almost all the factories missed the deadline.
In a meeting with BGMEA leaders and factory owners in June 2018, then state minister for labour Mujibul Haque once again extended the deadline for completing remediation up to December.
‘We have visited the factories and the time for completing remediation has increased due to ground reality,’ Shibnath Roy, inspector general of DIFE, told New Age.
He said this is last and the factories would not get any time extension in future.
Shibnath also said that as per the decision of the meeting three hearings of three categories of factories would be held at Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association office on September 12, 15 and 19.
It would be finalised in the hearings which factories would get how much time, he 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.