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Dhaka Tribune

Apparel manufacturers sceptical about new Accord

According to most unions and its supportive organizations, the signing of the new Accord will ensure the health and safety of workers 

Update : 30 Aug 2021, 07:44 PM

Apparel manufacturers expressed their hesitation about the recent developments in signing of a new and improved Accord International. 

Factory owners were also unconvinced about how the new Accord will work.  

According to a recent press statement of the Accord Foundation, the new agreement named the "International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry" will be officially signed between the brands and international labor organizations on Wednesday.

In a recent meeting, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) expressed their hesitation, confusions and anxiety about the new Accord. 

In a statement, Faruque Hassan, president of the BGMEA, said that the recent press release by the Accord Foundation may have been confusing for many and might give the impression of a poor partnership.

“It may be seen to be undermining an independent organization; one that is not controlled or subservient to the parties of the above captioned agreement,” he added.

He also stated that the claim that the International Accord agreement is being implemented in Bangladesh by the independent national tri-partite RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) is misleading.

Also Read - New Accord agreement: Workers' unions rejoice, apparel makers cautious

The RSC was formed as an independent non-profit company, licensed by the government to take over the Bangladesh operations of the Accord and has taken over the monitoring regime as of June 1, 2020 bringing the Bangladesh RMG safety monitoring regimes under one umbrella, he added.

It remains the objective of the RMG Industry to foster an environment which promotes a common safety platform and code of conduct. 

“The duty of compliance must be ensured for our continued safety and our well-earned pride in the stature of our industry. The industry has zero tolerance for backsliding on matters related to safety. The RSC is working to overcome all issues,” stated the BGMEA president.

The RSC consists of all stakeholders having equal representations and is an independent platform, where the protocols of the former Accord 2013 had been adopted, he added.

The Board of the RSC is only accountable to its stakeholders and works through a unique consensual decision-making process, whereby no two groups may influence operations. 

“We also remain accountable to the government of Bangladesh, being licensed to monitor the RMG sectors safety compliance and complaint mechanism,” he added.

The ILO and the EU, being key development partners to Bangladesh, have lent their endorsement to the RSC from its very inception. 

“It should be clear to all constituents and stakeholders that there is no licensed entity, apart from the RSC working in this sector,” said Faruque Hassan.

“The former Stitching Bangladesh Accord Foundation, and the proposed International Accord for Health & Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry Foundation, are separate entities to the RSC and will not have any function in Bangladesh, directly or indirectly, unless expressly permitted by the government of Bangladesh,” he added.

Also Read - Retailers agree to extend Bangladeshi garment workers' safety pact

He also stated that clauses and sub-clauses of any agreement signed outside Bangladesh, which are directly contradictory to the dictates of the laws of Bangladesh, must stand as null and void and have no scope of being implemented and RSC would not be functioning beyond its mandated remit. 

“As we have engaged in this endeavour with the commitment of non-interference, zero tolerance and continued improvement, we take this opportunity to reiterate our dedication to our joint initiative,” he added.

In a separate discussion, Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the BGMEA said that they are accountable only to the RSC and since the RSC has been operating here there is no need for the signing of a new Accord. 

However, according to most of the unions and its supportive organizations, the signing of the new Accord will ensure the health and safety of workers and they welcomed the initiative of the brands.

Over 220 companies and two global labour organizations signed the five-year Accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh in 2013 after the Rana Plaza accident which claimed 1,133 workers and critically injured thousands more. The Accord had more than 1600 factories under their supervision.

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