Accord to stay 6 more months in Bangladesh

The Accord, a platform for factory inspection and remediation of 220 European retailers and brands, has got conditional extension from the government for the next six months after the expiry of its five-year-long stay in Bangladesh.

The decision of the extension was formally announced at a joint press conference at the office of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in Dhaka today.

Officially, the five-year tenure of the Accord will come to an end on May 15. The body was formed in May 2013 following the Rana Plaza building collapse in April in the same year to fix three loopholes -- structural, fire, and electrical -- in the country’s $30billion worth garment sector.

“This week, the government of Bangladesh confirmed it will extend the permission of the Accord to work beyond May 2018,” Edward David Southall, a member of the Accord steering committee, said in a statement at the press conference.

The Accord will leave the country after six months if it sees that the government sponsored Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) is capable to run the inspection and remediation of the factory buildings meeting the global standards, the Accord official said.

If the Accord sees that the RCC needs more improvement and is not ready to take the responsibility after the six months’ assessment, the Accord may get another extension based on the decision of the joint Transition Monitoring Committee (TMC), Southall said.

“The TMC will review every six months whether the RCC has met the readiness criteria. If these criteria are not met, the Accord will continue. If the TMC agrees that the RCC is ready, the Accord will stay for another six months to handover its functions to the national regulatory body,” says Joris Oldenziel, deputy director for implementation of the Accord.

The government established the TMC for the purpose of determining when the agreed conditions for a handover of the Accord’s work to a fully-functional and competent national regulatory body have been met.

The TMC, which is comprised of Accord brands, global trade unions, BGMEA, ILO and the Bangladesh government, met on May 6and determined that the criteria agreed by the Accord and the BGMEA and recognised by the government have not yet been met, according to the Accord’s statement.

These criteria includedemonstrated proficiency in inspection capacity, remediation of hazards,enforcement of law against non-compliant factories, full transparency of governance and remediation progress, and investigation and fair resolution of workers’ safety complaints.

The Accord is pleased that the BGMEA supports the start of the 2018 Transition Accord on June 1 and to continue until these criteria are met, the statement said.

The overall progress rate of remediation at the 1,620 Accord-covered factories is 85 percent so far. The Accord has engaged with 2.4 million worker-participants to share vital safety information in more than 1,000 factories.

“As a result of these efforts, millions of workers now work in safer factories. Bangladesh’s garment factories also benefit materially, because buyers recognise that a factory that has completed its safety work presents far fewer risks for them,” the joint statement said.

“The Accord continues to be a unique opportunity for factory management, workers and their trade unions, global brands and global unions to combine their forces and thus remedy the systemic problem of building and fire safety deficits that has plagued the Bangladeshi garment industry,” said Jenny Holdcroft, assistant general secretary to the IndustriALL Global Union.