Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has expressed its dissatisfaction over a report published in the British daily The Guardian titled "Bangladesh clothing factory safety deal in danger, warn unions" published on 22 April 2021.
A letter sent to The Guardian, on 29 April, signed by President of BGMEA Faruque Hassan, alleged the report to be misleading about the safety issues in garments industry of Bangladesh.
"We are extremely disappointed to see that global trade unions, the Witness Signatory of the former ACCORD and their affiliated parties have been spreading misinformation and maligning the role of BGMEA in the tripartite organization of RMG Sustainability Council (RSC)," said the letter.
According to the letter, "The RSC, which was set up to carry forward the achievements made by the Accord on workplace safety in Bangladesh, is governed by an equal number of representatives from Brands, Manufacturers and Trade Unions. All policies and procedures developed by the Accord have been carried over to the RSC. In addition the RSC is a consensus based decision making body without any majority voting."
"The RSC is fully committed to a high level of transparency to allow all relevant stakeholders to monitor remediation at a factory-by-factory level. There has been not a single proven case of any manipulation by the BGMEA of the RSC process," it added.
The president of BGMEA in the letter accused that various parties are continuing to spread malign rumors and international media are publishing those without even taking a comment from the industry or brands.
"The BGMEA has the greatest respect for the global trade unions and their affiliates. At the same time we, from the industry side, strongly stand by the principles on which the RSC was founded. It is a national initiative with global standards. It is not going to be commanded by any external authority."
The letter reads, "This should be crystal clear to all parties that we are committed to a safe and secure industry for our workers, for the owners and for the brands who are sourcing from Bangladesh. However, we will not be the subject to harassment and bullying by the external forces."
"The RSC resumed inspections in September last year and has managed to accomplish 1821 inspections in 904 factories. It has conducted ICU Deep Dive in 202 factories.
During the pandemic, with hard work and without all resources of the Accord, the RSC has performed 75 factories' certification independently, whereas in seven years the Accord issued recognition letter to 280 factories.
The letter also mentioned various steps taken by BGMEA to ensure safety and other measures taken for the benefits of the workers.
"We are vigorously promoting Social Dialogue in our factories, in addition to mandatory formation of Workers Participation Committee and Safety Committees. Many more initiatives are under consideration to make our manufacturing process transparent, accountable, and responsible," it mentioned.
"Bangladesh has significantly moved towards sustainable and green manufacturing having 138 LEED green factories, 39 of those are Platinum, certified by the United States Green Building Council. 13 among top 20 ranking LEED certified factories around the world are located in Bangladesh, and 500 more factories have registered for certification," it continued.
Mentioning that in the past four decades the apparel industry in Bangladesh has grown in capacity, turnover and employment, the letter said that the industry along with its backward and forward linkage industries employ around 10 million people and indirectly around 50 million people are depending on it for livelihoods.
"So, any irresponsible propaganda against the RMG industries would ultimately harm the workers most," it concluded.