After operating for seven years in Bangladesh, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety will be abolished from Monday.
Accord and Alliance were formed for five years to improve the work environment of garment factories in Bangladesh after Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24, 2013, leaving over 1,100 people dead.
Accord is supposed to hand over the charge to RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) on Monday as per the agreement, according to the industry people.
The RSC was formed with representatives from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), labourers' representatives from home and abroad, and Accord representatives.
As per the agreement, before leaving, Accord and Alliance have to transfer all operations, staff, infrastructure, and functions to RSC.
Requesting anonymity, an accord official said all of their employees would be merged with RSC from Monday.
Though the tenure of Accord ended in June 2018, the government extended the tenure three times.
The RSC will operate within the regulatory framework following the laws of Bangladesh, closely cooperating with and supporting the regulatory functions of the government.
It will also retain all health and safety inspections and remediation, safety training and complaints handling functions so far carried out by Accord.
The RSC board will have 18 members – six from Accord, six from apparel exporters, and six from labour leaders, said industry people.
In September 2019, BGMEA representatives and Accord Steering Committee had a meeting in Dhaka to discuss the establishment of the RSC, as agreed on May 8, 2019.
However, Alliance also handed over their charge to Nirapon – a local entity that emerged in place of the North American agency to oversee building inspection, remediation and monitoring of listed apparel factories in the country.
According to the BGMEA, Accord has provided compliance certificate to only 200 out of 1,600 factories in the country.
Bangladesh apparel industry has experienced a significant improvement in safety and compliance issues due to the pressure generated by Accord and Alliance pressure and RMG owners' good intentions for improving as well.
Factory owners also have invested millions of dollars to be compliant as per international standards. As a result, Bangladesh has the highest number of green factories.
The US Green Building Council has already certified over a hundred factories and over 500 have applied for certification.
Covid-19 drastically affected the apparel industry like a bolt from the blue as Bangladesh apparel export experienced 54.79 percent negative growth in the last three months (March to May) comparing to the corresponding period of last year, according to BGMEA latest data.
From March to May 2019, apparel export was worth $8,182.29 million, which stood at $3,699.12 million same times in 2020.
Meanwhile, Global Data has recently made a forecast that Covid-19 will wipe off $297 billion from the global apparel market in 2020 – a 15.2 percent decline compared to that in 2019.