The global brand-retailer’s forums Accord and Alliance and labour rights groups have agreed to set up an entity named ‘RMG Sustainability Council (RSC)’ to monitor the work environment in the export-oriented garment factories.
The council will inspect the listed factories of the European brand buyers’ forum The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (Accord) and the North American buyers’ forum Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety (Alliance) after the phase-out of both forums.
RSC will inspect electrical, structural and fire safety and they will also look into labour rights and factory environment, said a related source.
The RSC will also monitor the new factories that will be added to the council, he added.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Dr Rubana Huq told the Business Standard, “They have all agreed to set up RSC. Modalities will be discussed”.
The RSC will be governed by the BGMEA and representatives from different brands and workers, she added.
The BGMEA president said the full structure of the council will be finalised within a couple of months.
According to sources, the Accord and Alliance and BGMEA leaders were discussing the issue at a city hotel on Monday (September 2, 2019), especially the structure of RSC and ratio of representation from Accord and Alliance. The discussions will continue to Tuesday.
After the two-day long discussion, representatives of all the parties will brief the media on Tuesday evening at a city hotel.
Earlier in May this year, the BGMEA took initiative to set up such a tripartite entity aiming to establish a monitoring system comprised of the representatives of different brands and retailers.
Sources said BGMEA came forward after the failure of Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) to manage the remediation process for RMG factories and its lack of capacity to take over the responsibility of Accord.
RCC was constituted through the initiative of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE).
Alliance folded up its activities in December last. But its 21 fashion brand members and retailers have created a new organisation titled ‘Nirapon’ since then.
However, Accord signed an MoU with BGMEA on May 8 this year and got an additional 281 days to conduct its activities in Bangladesh. As per the MoU, it will hand over its responsibilities to RSC before the end of 281 days.
After the collapse of Rana Plaza building on 24 April 2013, which killed over 1,100 people, Accord and Alliance were formed for five years to improve work environment of garments factories.
They inspected over 2,000 factories and detect various flaws. Accord was supposed to end its activities in May last year.
According to BGMEA, the Accord has provided compliance certificate only to 200 factories out of 1,600 factories in the country. Accord imposed newer conditions to provide compliance and safety certificate to the companies, though these companies finished 80-97 percent of the remediation work.