Garment makers see disconnect in factory inspection
The three separate accords signed for the garment industry may ruin coherence in factory inspection due to conflicting rules, sector leaders said.
After the Rana Plaza tragedy, the accords—National Action Plan, Fire and Building Safety Accord, and North American Alliance—have been signed to improve safety standards in garment factories.
A single factory can be inspected three times, as the three accords follow separate inspection rules, which may result in suspension of production for a long time and loss of business, they said.
Moreover, the signatories of the fire and building safety accord initiated by IndustriALL, a global union federation, inspect only 1,500 factories and North American Alliance will inspect nearly 500 factories, said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
“I wonder the fates of the rest of the factories as there are nearly 4,500 active garment factories across the country,” he said.
For an example, the BGMEA chief cited the case of Liberty Fashions, a Savar-based factory, which was asked to stop production a few weeks ago by Tesco, as the retailer's engineer found some structural flaws in the factory building.
At the same time, other retailers urged the factory owner to continue production, he said.
The similar incident may take place in almost every factory, as a single factory can work for American and European retailers and brands at a time, he said.
“If the retailers and brands follow the National Action Plan, 90 percent problems will be resolved. So, we want a unified code of conduct for inspection under the plan.”
Meanwhile, top European retailers and brands agreed on a code of conduct, Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said on Wednesday.
The representatives of European retailers and brands, which signed the fire and building safety accord, met the officials of commerce and labour and employment ministries in Dhaka.
The representatives are visiting Bangladesh to complete the administrative activities to start factory inspection, Ahmed said.
The retailers themselves proposed to set the unified code of conduct following the National Action Plan, said Mikail Shipar, labour secretary.