American retailers stand by Dhaka
Members of the Alliance, a platform of 28-North American retailers like Walmart and Gap, will continue to source from Bangladesh despite the militant attack at a Dhaka restaurant on July 1, said a top official of the Alliance yesterday.
After the attack, in which terrorists killed 20 people, mostly foreigners, many international retailers and important personalities cancelled or suspended their trips to Bangladesh.
“Despite these unspeakable tragedies, the Alliance and our member companies will continue to stay the course -- because improving safety for the millions of men and women who make a living in Bangladesh's garment sector is a moral imperative,” said former US ambassador and country director of the Alliance James Moriarty.
“That said, on behalf of the Alliance, our member companies and our staff, I am heartened and humbled by the strength of the Bangladeshi people, and I am confident their resilience will see them through these challenging times,” Moriarty said at a teleconference with journalists in Dhaka yesterday.
“As we review and update our policies to help keep our staff and contractors safe, our work to improve safety in Bangladesh's garment factories will continue at full speed,” he said.
The Alliance was formed after the Rana Plaza building collapse to strengthen workplace safety in the garment sector. The factory inspection agency completed its preliminary detailed engineering assessment of nearly 700 factories in September 2014.
Now, engineers of the agency have been inspecting the progress of remediation of the corrective action plans laid out by them during the preliminary inspection.
The US State Department on Monday warned Americans to consider carefully whether they need to travel to Bangladesh.
"The advice from most embassies is to keep as low a profile as possible," according to Reuters as the former US ambassador to Bangladesh was saying.
Moriarty said many major brands were holding off on sending foreign staff to the country, although most had Bangladeshi or South Asian staff leading their operations in the country.
"I do have confidence that the people who are committing these attacks are a very small minority with very small support," he said.
Moriarty said the Alliance -- set to run until 2018 -- was ahead of schedule in improving safety at some 700 factories its members work with in Bangladesh, calling the safety drive a "moral imperative", Reuters said.
As of yesterday, 28 member factories have completed their Corrective Action Plans, which is 17 percent higher than the last updates by the agency.
In all factories, more than one-third of the issues most critical to life safety have already been addressed two years ahead of the deadline.
The Alliance members so far suspended business relations with 83 factories for their failure to make adequate remediation progress.
“Make no mistake -- our work is achieving the big-picture goal of driving consolidation of the RMG industry in Bangladesh into safer factories,” he said.
The Alliance members trained 1.2 million workers in fire safety. “We are now in the process of re-training our entire workforce and we've provided this refresher to some 600,000 workers to date,” Moriarty said.
Moreover, the Alliance provided training to more than 22,000 security guards in the member factories.
“We have also provided financial compensation to nearly 7,000 workers displaced by remediation, fulfilling 100 percent requests from factory owners, and helping workers provide for themselves and their families despite the temporary closure of their factories.”