Accord's extension runs into trouble
The Accord's bid to prolong its stay in Bangladesh became uncertain after the High Court yesterday extended its restraining order on the government from extending the inspection agency's tenure by three more months.
Earlier on May 10, the EU-based factory inspection and remediation agency got the extension from the government to stay on in Bangladesh for six more months after its original five-year tenure ends on May 31.
The High Court last month had restrained the government from extending the inspection agency's tenure following a writ petition filed by Chittagong-based Smart Jeans, which felt wronged by the platform of 220 EU-based retailers.
Now, Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Salim of the Supreme Court in a verdict have extended the restraining order by three more months, said a statement issued by Md. Yousuf Ali, an advocate of the Supreme Court. This means the secretary to the ministry of labour and employment, inspector general of the Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishment and the secretary to the ministry of commerce cannot extend the Accord's tenure.
Mostafizur Rahman, chairman of Smart Jeans, had filed the writ petition against the Accord after the platform of more than 200 retailers, mostly based in Europe, terminated its business relationship with the Chittagong-based garment maker.
Smart Jeans is mostly a supplier to the members of the Alliance, another platform like the Accord but composed of 28 North American retailers. But, it supplies to signatories of the Accord from time to time.
There was an understanding between the Accord and the Alliance that they will accept the inspection certification of each other in case of common factories to avoid duplication.
Since Smart Jeans is largely a supplier to Alliance members, the platform's inspectors examined the three factories owned by Rahman and suggested necessary remediation works.
Rahman completed the remediation works and the Alliance engineers also gave their seal of approval. Meanwhile, the Accord engineers also inspected the factories and found the corrective works to be unsatisfactory.
Based on their recommendation, the Accord signatories unilaterally terminated ties with Smart Jeans, prompting Rahman to take the platform to court.
Earlier on October 26 last year, the same bench of the court issued an order, asking why the unilateral decision of severing of the business ties of Smart Group with the Accord signatories will not be declared illegal.
On the same day, the Accord said on its website that the government has already extended its tenure by three years.
After noticing the news of the extension on the Accord website, the court gave a supplementary rule on it and restrained the government until April 4 from extending the tenure of the Accord. After the injunction was issued, Rahman was informed that the Accord members would be able to do business with Smart Jeans now.