63pc repair works complete in Alliance factories

About 63 percent of the remediation works in the Alliance-affiliated garment factories have been completed until yesterday.

The disclosure came in the third annual report of the Alliance, which was published yesterday.

The Alliance, a platform of 29 North American retailers, was formed after the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013.

The association has been inspecting 765 of the garment factories from which its members source to fix three specific flaws, including structural, electrical and fire.

Currently, the Alliance is focusing on the most critical repairs, which also happen to be the costliest and most time-consuming for factories to achieve, such as installation of fire doors, reinforcement of structural beams and columns and installation of sprinkler systems.

Some 55 percent of the high-priority remediation works are complete.

“Significant remediation is now underway in all the active Alliance factories, and those unwilling or unable to comply are suspended and removed from our compliant factory list,” the report said.

By July 2018, all Alliance factories will have to either complete their high-priority repairs or will be suspended from the Alliance's list of suppliers, said Ellen Tauscher, independent chair of the Alliance.

“Progress toward this goal has been significant, and achieving closer to the remaining issues most critical to life safety remains our primary focus.”

More than three years have now passed since Alliance member companies launched one of the most ambitious and significant safety programmes in Bangladesh history, she said.

Despite countless challenges, the reforms achieved to date are saving lives and building a safer garment sector in Bangladesh.

“But our work is far from complete -- we are pushing full steam ahead to ensure that our ambitious goals are achieved by the end of our five-year initiative.”

Achieving safety in factories is more than completing repairs: it must be accompanied by comprehensive efforts to inform, engage and empower the women and men who earn their living in garment factories, said Alliance Country Director James F Moriarty in a teleconference with the reporters.

“By approaching remediation and empowerment hand in hand, we are working to set the gold standard for garment factories throughout Bangladesh,” Moriarty said.

The Alliance is also ramping up its programme to establish Worker Safety Committees -- groups of workers trained and empowered to monitor on-site occupational safety and health issues, according to the third annual report.

The programme was launched in April.

The number of committees rose from 16 to 54 since April, and committees will be operational in a majority of Alliance factories by July 2018, according to the report. Some 40 factories have achieved substantial completion of their corrective action plans, while 97 have been suspended from the list of Alliance-compliant factories for failure to make sufficient remediation progress.

Worker Safety Committees empowered to monitor on-site occupational safety and health issues have been established or are in formation in 54 factories.

More than 1.2 million workers have been trained in basic fire safety, with nearly 800,000 receiving the interactive refresher course. About 23,000 security guards have been provided with fire safety leadership training.

The Alliance Helpline has become a go-to resource for workers inside and outside Alliance factories, receiving an average of 4,200 calls per month and nearly 90,000 calls in total since the helpline was established, the report said.

Maintaining safe factories require sustained commitment by the owners and the management, the report said.


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