The government will not extend the tenure of the Accord beyond November 30, ending the hopes of the European agency for factory inspection and remediation to stay on in Bangladesh for three more years.
The tenure of the Accord, a platform of nearly 200 mainly European retailers, was initially supposed to come to an end in May this year but the government extended it by six months to November 30.
“We will not extend the tenure any further,” said Mujibul Haque Chunnu, state minister for labour and employment.
A few months ago the Supreme Court said there is no scope for extension of the tenure of the Accord, so the government cannot do anything more on this matter.
“The Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) is now ready to take over,” he said, adding that the Accord has started handing over the remediated factories to the RCC, an entity under the labour and employment ministry formed in May last year.
So far, a total of 60 engineers have been recruited for running the operations of RCC, formed to oversee the remediation and inspection after the departure of the Accord and Alliance from Bangladesh. Alliance is the North American inspection and remediation agency.
The RCC will recruit another 40 engineers soon to take the tally past 100, which is enough for skilful operation of the platform. Since the RCC has been formed in consultation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), it has also sponsored some skilled engineers for the RCC.
The ILO will also sponsor few more engineers for the RCC, Chunnu said.
Contacted, Rob Wayss, executive director of the Accord, said the agency submitted a transition plan to the labour ministry in the middle of September.
“We remain in discussions with the ministry on the implementation of the transition and gradual handover of the Accord's work to the RCC.”
The transition plan also includes working with and supporting the RCC to ensure they are prepared to gradually take over such work and effectively regulate safety at garment factories, he added.
The factories that were handed over to the RCC have completed the remediation of safety hazard findings from the Accord initial fire, electrical and structural safety inspections, said a statement from the Accord.
However, the remediated factories will need follow-up inspection in areas like status of remediation, initial fire, electrical and structural inspection reports, escalation status and others, it said.
Following the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013 that killed 1,138 workers and injured 2,500, the European retailers formed a legally-binding five-year-long Accord to fix the loopholes in the areas of fire, structural and electrical safety in the garment factories in Bangladesh.
So far, the platform has inspected nearly 1,600 garment factories.
Meanwhile, the Alliance's tenure will automatically come to an end at the close of this year as it did not apply for an extension, said Tofail Ahmed, commerce minister, on Monday after a meeting with the US Ambassador in Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat.