Alliance to pay workers during factory renovation
Workers of garment units that need to shut down temporarily for renovation will receive payment to cover two months' sala-ries, said North American buyers of apparel made in Bangladesh.
Of the payment, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a forum of 26 North American apparel retailers, will bear 50 percent of the cost while the factory owners will bear the rest.
The Alliance made the disclosure after it inspected nearly 400 factories out of the 700 that American buyers source from. The announcement was made in presence of Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and some labour leaders.
“Upon inspecting the factories, we understand the state of the owners. The Alliance has agreed to pay 50 percent of the workers' two months wages, in case a factory needs to be partially closed for remediation,” Ellen Tauscher, independent chair of the Alliance and a former US congresswoman, told a news briefing at The Westin Hotel in Dhaka.
“If a factory is closed for an indefinite period, workers have the opportunity to go for jobs in other factories.”
The Alliance is committed to be here for five years to ensure integrity, fire safety and training for workers who produce clothes for consumers in North America, she said.
In response to a query on factory closure on account of poor working conditions, she said the Alliance is nobody to order that a factory should be closed; if inspectors find that a factory is risky, it advises the government agencies concerned to take action.
Members of Alliance's board of directors Rumee Ali, Dr Wajidul Islam, Sukur Mahmud and Sirajul Islam Rony also spoke on the occasion.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse in April last year, there was global outcry over working conditions in the RMG factories in Bangladesh. To help Bangladesh improve working conditions, 26 leading North American apparel companies came together to form the Alliance.
Similarly, 150 European buyers formed the Accord to help Bangladesh ensure building and fire safety in workplace. The Alliance decided to inspect 700 factories from where they source apparel. The board of directors of the Alliance met in Dhaka this week to assess progress on key milestones.
The Alliance also trained four lakh workers and managers out of a total of 11 lakh employed in these 700 factories.
“We'll finish training all the workers and managers by July this year,” said the former US congresswoman.
To reinforce the importance of worker empowerment, the Alliance will roll out a helpline in 50 factories this month, with plans to expand the number to 150 by the end of 2014.