RMG manufacturers do not want that the tenure of Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh be extended after its expiry on June 2018 to monitor safety standards in the sector.
Demanding an alternative platform for such monitoring in the ready-made garment sector, they also sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention in getting rid of Accord.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) general members and former leaders made the appeal to the platform’s present board at an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) held in the capital on Saturday.
Recently, the Accord, a platform of EU retailers formed in 2013, has unilaterally declared to extend its tenure till 2021. Following the announcement, BGMEA called the EMG to hear voice of its members about the Accord extension.
“We no longer want an extension of the Accord tenure,” BGMEA member Mohammad Hatem said while talking at the EGM.
“By disregarding the law of a sovereign country, Accord says it would carry out its operation in Bangladesh as per the Netherlands law. It cannot happen. There should be no Accord in Bangladesh after June 2018.”
“Accord has done a good job in improving safety standards, but there must be an end to it. It cannot go endlessly,” said Fazle Azim, former leader of BGMEA.
“We cannot make Accord an acceptable platform to everyone. The issue should be handled politically and diplomatically,” according to former BGMEA director Arshad Jamal Dipu.
Bangladesh has to lobby the International Labor Organization (ILO) to bring an end to Accord role, as it is big stakeholder, said Arshad.
“If we cannot form an alternative platform, we may face threat from the buyers of European Union (EU),” he added. He also suggested forming a technical committee to handle the issue.
The situation is not suitable to run factory. It is high time that apparel makers stood united, said the leaders.
Responding to the demand of members, BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman said: “We will continue our business with pride.”
The industry is in dire state and the sector people want to know if they will be able to survive, BGMEA former president Anisur Rahman Sinha said, asking all to take strong stance against blackmail, if any, in the name of efficiency enhancement.
Each and every decision taken by the Accord should be approved by the government and BGMEA, he added.
“The BGMEA leadership has to remove fear relating to Accord which works without having any consultation with renowned local institutions such BUET and Dhaka university,” said BGMEA president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin.
“I thank Accord for helping our efforts in capacity building, but do not try to be the East India Company,” Shafiul said, adding that we have respect for EU as it has given us Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).”
“Since members do not want the Accord extension, BGMEA is working on building a new platform to oversee the safety and other related issues in the RMG, which would be floated by December,” BGMEA vice-president Mahmud Hasan khan Babu told the Dhaka Tribune.
The platform will include representatives from BGMEA, BKMEA, ILO, Brands and Bangladesh government, he added.