Factory inspections start today, at last
Garment factory inspections on a full-fledged basis will at last take off today, with 200 units to come under the microscopes of BUET experts over the next eight weeks.
The development comes following a meeting yesterday at the ministry of labour, where a common checklist for inspection on the country's 4,000-odd active garment factories was agreed upon.
The 200 factories to be inspected, both for structural integrity and fire and electrical safety, would fall under the 2,000 factories that the government agreed to as part of the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) efforts to improve factory safety in Bangladesh.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety, an alliance of more than 100 European-based retailers, would inspect another 1,500 factories, while the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, another coalition of 26 retailers mainly based in North America, would look into 500 more.
“The agreement today forms a major breakthrough which will help ensure the safety of all workers in the garment industry in Bangladesh and prevent tragic events like Tazreen and Rana Plaza from happening again. No worker in Bangladesh should die because of unsafe work places,” said Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar.
ILO Country Director Srinivas Reddy said these standards align with the Bangladesh National Building Code and also support the National Tripartite Plan of Action.
“The challenges in Bangladesh are many and complex, and the solution requires collaboration across all interested parties,” said Jeffrey Krilla, president of the Alliance, in a statement.
The common standards are the culmination of the pressures labour and consumer groups have put on European and American retailers since the worst-ever industrial disaster in the country, to do more to assure factory safety in Bangladesh.
The members of the European-dominated accord have released the names of more than 1,600 Bangladeshi apparel factories that its members use. The American-led alliance has disclosed the names of 686 factories.
The Alliance, which expects to officially open its Dhaka office in December, also said it has hired staff in Bangladesh, including its managing director, Mesbah Rabin.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the association for factory owners, welcomed the common inspection standards.
"It is very important for the industry. In fact, it was our demand that the common standards are in line with our local actions and plans," said Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of BGMEA.
He also said the Accord would start inspecting factories at the end of November and the Alliance by the first week of December.
About the possibility of overlapping, he said: "There are factories where some members from the two groups make their clothes. The groups will decide among themselves who will inspect what factories. It will basically depend on the amount of orders the retailers and brands are placing with the factories."