Safety monitoring cell in apparel must be independent
The Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC), formed to monitor workplace safety in the garment sector, should be independent and credible so that it can take sound decisions to avert further industrial accidents.
“If there is a good system in place and if the retailers and brands continue sourcing from Bangladesh, it is expected that there will not be any disaster in the garment sector,” said Jim Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance, the factory inspection platform of 28 North American retailers.
For instance, no disaster like Rana Plaza collapse took place after Alliance started working in July 2013 to fix the structural, electrical and fire loopholes in the garment factories.
Moriarty's comments came at a press conference yesterday to unveil the platform's fourth annual report.
The platform will leave Bangladesh in July next year after the completion of its five-year tenure.
The government has formed the RCC under the labour ministry involving the International Labour Organisation, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and other stakeholders to monitor workplace safety once Accord and Alliance leave.
Any monitoring system has to be independent and credible, he said.
Independent monitoring means it has to be clear that no outside force can interfere in the technical decision.
“When I said credible, it means it has to have the technical capacity to make good decision,” said Moriarty, who is also a former US ambassador to Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, 85 percent of all required factory repairs, including 80 percent of high-priority remediation works, have been completed, the report said.
A total of 234 Alliance-affiliated factories have completed all material items in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) and 162 non-compliant factories have been suspended from Alliance factory list for delays in upgrading of their CAPs.
More than 1.3 million workers across 941 Alliance and non-Alliance factories have access to Amader Kotha, the Alliance's confidential worker Helpline.
Democratically elected Worker Safety Committees that give workers a seat at the table in monitoring safety issues have been established in 171 factories.
More than 1.4 million workers have been trained in basic fire safety, and 1.3 million have participated in refresher courses.
Nearly 27,000 security guards have been trained in fire safety leadership while about 20,000 have received refresher training.
The Alliance has designed a safety training workshop for senior factory managers and partnered with the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology on a graduate-level short course for Bangladeshi engineers, both designed to build in-country capacity on safety.
Overhauling safety in hundreds of factories is a massive undertaking, Moriarty said.
“We are incredibly proud of what the Alliance has accomplished together with our partners in just four years. Until we achieve our mandate, fortifying safety in Alliance factories and equipping workers with empowerment tools will remain our laser focus.”
The factories are demonstrably safer today than when the Alliance started working -- and the hard work that factory owners have undertaken since 2013 is now paying off, as hundreds of factories are reaching CAP closure.
This achievement represents a starting line for these factories, for whom maintaining rigorous safety standards must remain an ongoing priority, he said.
“We are committed to transitioning our programme in a way that paves the way for sustainable progress beyond 2018,” he added.