Pressure mounts on garment factories to accept Accord arrangements

Monira Munni | Published: September 30, 2018 11:16:24 | Updated: September 30, 2018 13:25:37

Pressure is mounting from different quarters for accepting transitional arrangements made by two platforms of global apparel retailers, garment industry insiders said.

European brands, global rights groups and their local affiliates, and partners of the Sustainability Compact favoured the extension of the Accord.

The extension is imperative to sustain the gains achieved so far and bring other factories of the supply chain under the inspection purview, they added.

The latest call came from the Bangladesh Investor Initiative (BII), a group of institutional investors from twelve countries with $2.8 trillion in assets.

It is coordinated by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and Germany-based Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST) having 130 members like Hugo Boss, C&A, Tchibo and Aldi.

The BII on September 12 wrote to the labour ministry and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) with a call for Accord's continuation until its mandate is completed.

"Signatory brands and their investors have relied on the Accord to ensure safe working conditions in Bangladeshi garment factories," it said.

"Without the Accord or adequate regulatory systems to provide these assurances, brands may need to consider their sourcing strategies, deeming Bangladesh too risky for workers and brand reputation," the BII warned.

The PST on August 28 wrote to the prime minister, with an urge to "advocate for the Transitional Monitoring Committee's (TMC) agreement and ensure that all obstacles to keeping this commitment are withdrawn."

Last year, the TMC was formed with representatives from Accord member brands, union signatories, the BGMEA and the government.

Over 180 global apparel brands, in the fourth review meeting of the Sustainability Compact on June 25, warned against any premature shutdown of the Accord.

This might lead them to reconsider Bangladesh as their sourcing destination, according to an Accord statement.

The brands currently sourcing apparel products from here have signed the 2018 Transition Accord.

On June 29, IndustriALL, UNI Global Union and brands like C&A, H&M, Inditex, Tchibo, Primark and Loblaw inked the second Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (2018 Transition Accord).

The Alliance already is in negotiations with stakeholders to form a Safety Monitoring Organisation (SMO) to continue and monitor safety activities in the listed factories for sustainability.

US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat on Tuesday called for accepting the transitional arrangements to keep progress on track until the RCC (Remediation Coordination Centre) is ready to assume full responsibility.

The FE emailed Jim Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance, to know about the latest development.

He said Alliance member brands saw huge safety improvements in their sourcing factories in Bangladesh.

After dissolution of the Alliance, the brands will continue to monitor conditions in factories to make sure they maintain high standards.

"The member brands of the Alliance hope to work collectively to address these monitoring tasks," Mr Moriarty told the FE.

"It'd be much more expensive and much less effective for the brands and for the factories if each brand conducts its own safety monitoring…," he writes.

The two coalitions kicked off a remediation operation following multiple tragic incidents in garment factories, including the Rana Plaza building collapse.

The tenure of Accord and Alliance expired in mid-2018. Both the platforms got six more months' transitional period.

They inspected fire, electrical and structural integrity at 2,200 factories and recorded more than 85 per cent progress in terms of fixing safety hazards.


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