The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has made an agreement with apparel exporters to leave the country by May 31 this year.
Before leaving, the forum of European brands and buyers will transfer all operations, staff, infrastructure, and functions to a local initiative named the RMG Sustainability Council.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), and Accord signed the transition agreement at a ceremony in Dhaka on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday afternoon, Accord and the BGMEA issued a joint statement, saying the representatives of Accord's Steering Committee and the apparel exporters met in Dhaka to finalise the Articles of Association for the RMG Sustainability Council.
"The council is an unprecedented national supply chain initiative, uniting the industry, brands and trade unions to ensure a sustainable solution to carry forward the significant accomplishments made on workplace safety in Bangladesh," said the statement.
Speaking with The Business Standard, BGMEA President Dr Rubana Huq said, "Accord will cease their functions in Bangladesh and hand over all responsibilities to a national collaborative committee formed by us, in which the brands, unions and the industry will be together to monitor factories.
"We are taking over resources from Accord and will follow their protocols with a national context."
Meanwhile, BKMEA Director Fazle Shamim Ehsan said, "The RMG Sustainability Council will be governed by a board of directors comprised of an equal number of representatives from the industry, brands and trade unions.
"The board will have 18 members. Among them, six will represent Accord and six will represent apparel exporters and six will represent labour leaders."
The RMG Sustainability Council will operate within the regulatory framework in accordance with the laws of Bangladesh, closely co-operating 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 currently carried out by Accord.
In September last year, the representatives of the BGMEA and the Accord Steering Committee met in Dhaka to discuss the establishment of the RMG Sustainability Council, as previously agreed on May 8, 2019.
After the collapse of the Rana Plaza building on April 24, 2013, which killed over 1,100 people, Accord and Alliance were formed for five years to improve the work environment of garment factories. The tenure ended in June 2018.
However, the government extended Accord's tenure by six months to complete the remediation process by November 30, 2019 and hand over their responsibilities to a Remediation Coordination Cell for monitoring safety issues.
Since then, Accord has secured two time extensions from the Supreme Court of Bangladesh for operating in the country.
According to the BGMEA, Accord has provided compliance certificate only to 200 out of 1,600 factories in the country.
They 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.