Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) wants a single agency rather than the three at present to inspect and monitor progress in remediation of garment factories.
The BGMEA has prepared a new guideline for the next phase of inspection of the apparel production units in a bid to reduce hassles and set a unified code of inspection.
All three inspection agencies apply different codes in inspection, and as a result, many owners face challenges in remedying their factories.
Currently, the Accord and the Alliance -- the inspection agencies of European and North American retailers and brands -- and the National Initiative backed by the government are inspecting and suggesting remediation to boost workplace safety. The agencies are now trying to extend their tenure.
The tenure of the legally binding Accord and Alliance will come to an end in June 2018. This is why the BGMEA has prepared a draft guideline, which will be placed in a meeting on February 9 for finalisation.
“We are ready to place the draft with the inspection agencies,” said Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, vice-president of BGMEA. In the new guideline, the association also wants the inclusion of the government, BGMEA, International Labour Organisation, trade unions and global retailers in the agency's core committee.
Babu said the BGMEA has already discussed the matter with Alliance, and negotiations are ongoing with the Accord for the finalisation of the draft.
The new guideline will remain effective till 2021, and after that, the Remediation Coordination Cell, a body of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, will monitor the processes, he added.
BGMEA wants the terminology 'legally binding' from the present article of the Accord and Alliance to be removed, when the new guideline comes into force, he said.
The BGMEA formed a five-member committee in October last year to develop a strategy to cope with the situation following the expiry of the Accord and Alliance.
Under the new initiative, factory assessment would be done on an individual basis and failure in the remediation in any particular unit would not impact other production units belonging to the same group.
Laws of the land will be applicable regarding closure of factories, compensation for workers and penalty for the factory owners, according to the draft strategy.
In the draft guideline, BGMEA proposed that signatory buyers continue their contributions for the initial period (June 2018–June 2020), but at half of the rates that they have been paying to the Accord and Alliance since 2013.
The BGMEA proposed that third-party auditors, having prior experience in audit and certification with the Accord and Alliance, will be hired for conducting all structural, fire and electrical audit.
The new factories will have to pay for their inspections.
Accord has so far conducted initial inspections at 1,600 factories while Alliance inspected 759 factories.
At the same time, under the National Action Plan, the Bangladesh government, in collaboration with the ILO, inspected around 1,500 factories.