The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments has instructed the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association to stop providing the utilisation declarations for export and import to 189 member factories due to noncompliance in fixing safety faults.
The DIFE on Monday sent a letter to the BGMEA requesting it to stop providing the UDs to 143 member factories for three months as the authorities of the units had failed to start safety remediation works.
Earlier on December 29 last year, the department sent another letter to the BKMEA asking it to stop providing the UDs to 46 member factories over noncompliance.
The letters said that a total of 1,549 RMG factories were inspected under the national initiative from 2014 to 2015 and were asked to undertake the necessary structural, electrical and fire safety remediation works.
‘But the factories are yet to take any initiative to start safety remediation works and have not yet even submitted the drawings and designs for such works to the DIFE,’ the letters said.
The DIFE requested the trade bodies to stop the UDs of the units for noncompliance as per the escalation protocol adopted at the 15th National Tripartite committee meeting held on July 31, 2019.
‘We have had several meetings with factories where the remediation progress was minimal. During the last meeting in October, 2019, some of the factories sought time extension for starting the remediation works. Although some of the units have started the works, 189 factories have not taken any initiative for remediation,’ DIFE inspector general Shibnath Roy told New Age on Monday.
He said that accidents might take place any time at these units due to various safety faults. The DIFE requested the trade bodies to suspend the UDs of these factories so that the factory owners would be forced to shut their risky units, he said.
‘As per round 4 of the escalation protocol, we have requested the trade bodies to stop issuing UDs to 189 factories for the next three months with an aim to expedite remediation in the units,’ Shibnath said.
Acting president of BKMEA Mohammad Hatem said that they received the letter from the DIFE that asked to stop issuing the UDs to RMG factories which had failed to start safety remediation.
Earlier in September, 2018, the DIFE issued separate letters to the BGMEA and the BKMEA to stop issuing the UDs to 219 factories as the remediation progress at the units was not satisfactory.
The BGMEA then
temporarily stopped issuing the UDS to 51 member factories while the other errant factories pledged to start fixing the safety faults.
Following the Rana Plaza building collapse in April, 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people, a total of 3,780 garment factories were assessed under three initiatives — European retailers’ platform Accord, North American buyers’ platform Alliance and the government-led and ILO-supported national initiative.
Out 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 the Accord and Alliance lists.
Factories that fell under the national initiative had completed 32 per cent of the remediation works while 11 factories had fixed 100 per cent of the safety faults, DIFE officials said.
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