An alliance of North American clothing retailers has failed to publish its factory inspection reports and introduce hotlines for workers in time.
The platform of 26 US-based retailers and brands, Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, said it completed inspecting 80 percent of factories that supply clothes to its members.
The group was supposed to publish the reports on its website months ago, but “some technical problems” delayed the move.
“We now plan to post the assessment reports of 25 inspected factories in a day or two on the Alliance's website,” said the group's Managing Director Rabin Mesbah.
Accord, another platform of 150 retailers and brands, mostly European, has already published its first assessment reports on its website in the first week of March.
“From now, we will publish reports on 10 to 15 inspected factories periodically—perhaps once a month,” Mesbah said.
Regarding the hotlines or helplines, he said everything is ready to launch the services, but there are some legal matters to be solved first.
The Alliance has hired three firms—Good World Solution, Clear Voice and Phulki, a local nongovernmental organisation—to give advice to the workers through the hotlines. California-based Good World Solution provides hotline services in Vietnam and Cambodia.
“However, we will introduce the hotlines in at least 50 factories by July 10. It is true that we made some delay in introducing the hotlines, which were supposed to be launched a lot earlier.”
The workers will be able to express their concern through the helplines, Mesbah told The Daily Star by phone.
In a press briefing at his office in Dhaka yesterday, he said the Alliance has already completed inspections of 508 out of 626 factories in Dhaka and Chittagong since the first week of March.
Of the inspected factories, one was closed in Chittagong, and recommendations have been sent to the review panel, seeking closure of five factories for having structural flaws and problems with fire safety, Mesbah said.
The Alliance has disbursed one month's salaries to the workers of a closed factory of RSI Garment in Chittagong. The Alliance is committed to paying half the monthly salaries of the workers of the factories, which faced closure after inspection, Mesbah said.
The majority of the factories do not have fire doors; rooftops are loaded with generators and childcare centres, he said.
“We have asked them to take measures to make the factories safer. Many factories have already followed our instructions and improved a lot within a short time. Those who have already made progress are making good money with a lot of work orders from the international retailers.”
The Alliance plans to pay salaries to the workers of closed factories for three months, he said, adding the garment owners should come forward to pay for another three months.
Ian Spaulding, an adviser to the Alliance board, said they will work for a longer period in Bangladesh to improve the safety standards in the factories.
“We do not want close any factory. We are making factories safer everyday. We are committed to Bangladesh.”
“Many factories have made significant progress in safety standards. They deserve money,” Spaulding said.
After the deadly Rana Plaza collapse, 26 US-based retailers and brands formed the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety last year.