Accord, the garment factory inspection agency sponsored by more than 200 brands mostly based in Europe, will leave Bangladesh in May next year after failing to get an extension despite lobbying for more than a year.
The platform wanted to stay in Bangladesh until 2021 to ensure its goals were fully met.
The government yesterday said the platform's tenure in Bangladesh may be extended by six more months from May 31 next year if the steering committee deems it necessary.
“In that case, the name of the agency will be 'transitional Accord',” Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed told reporters after a meeting of the steering committee of the Accord, the main operation body of the platform, at the secretariat.
The steering committee's members include: Mujibul Haque Chunnu, state minister for labour and employment ministry; Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry; and Siddiqur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
A new steering committee comprising representatives from the international clothing brands that source from Bangladesh, representatives from the BGMEA, International Labour Organisation and trade union leaders will review the activities of Accord in January and May next year.
Alliance, the platform of 17 North American retailers, has already informed the government through a letter that it will leave Bangladesh by May next year.
Both the platforms have already completed 80 percent of the inspection and remediation of the factory buildings from which their members source apparel items, according to the minister.
The factory owners have spent between Tk 5 crore and Tk 20 crore for remediation of the structures as per the recommendations of the experts of Accord and Alliance.
Both the agencies will hand over their responsibilities to the Remediation Coordination Cell, which will monitor the progress in enhancing workplace safety in garment factories.
The cell will be run by the steering committee, which will act under the ministry of labour and employment.
During its stay in Bangladesh, Accord had to struggle to complete the inspection and remediation works in the factories as many did not cooperate.
The agency also faced court cases in Dhaka and Amsterdam as the garment factory owners challenged its legality to inspect and suggest remediation activities in Bangladesh.
The garment manufacturers have been complaining that Accord signatories were not giving money for remediation works although they promised it in the guidelines.
The relation between the Accord and the BGMEA was not warm enough because of its lack of representation initially in the steering committee of the Accord.
After the meeting, a signatory of the Accord, said the retailers are here to do business, not to remediate the factory buildings.
“We are satisfied with the progress of the workplace safety and we have decided to leave the country,” said the representative of the signatory asking not to be named.
“Talking from the brands' point of view, our business is selling garment. Our business is making garment in Bangladesh. Our business is not to remediate the buildings in Bangladesh,” he added.