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Dhaka Tribune

856 RMG factories considered 'at risk'

CPD urges all risky RMG factories to be brought under strict monitoring 

Update : 30 Aug 2023, 07:41 PM

The Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has called for initiatives to bring 856 risky readymade garment (RMG) factories under strong monitoring.

Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the think tank, made the comments at a press briefing titled “Workplace safety in the garment industry: Challenges to sustain achievement” at the CPD office in the capital on Wednesday.

In the keynote presentation, Golam Moazzem and Tamim Ahmed said that there are still 856 risky garment factories in the country after the RMG Sustainability Council’s monitoring of 1887 factories and 659 factories are being monitored under the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC).

Meaning, a total of 2,896 factories are under the monitoring of RSC and RCC but still 856 factories are currently not under any monitoring.

Golam Moazzzem also said that manufacturing and exporting activities are continuing in these 856 (22%-23% of total factory units) and this number is likely to increase day by day, maybe 30% in the near future.

In response to the question of whether the risky factories also export to Europe or the US, he said, according to their research, they do not export to these destinations.

“They mainly export to non-traditional markets like Russia, Brazil, and Dubai cited this as also a reason behind the recent increase in exports to these destinations. He suggested that everyone should be careful about compliance and safety so that there is a common standard for all destinations. No factory can remain outside of any association because if there is an accident in these factories, who will take responsibility? BGMEA and BKMEA will not take responsibility for that factory. We want all factories to be accountable to any association,” he added.

He also said that the RSC has been doing important activities, however, CPD also demanded more transparency and accountability in their activities.

The year 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster. In the decade following, the biggest success of the Bangladesh RMG industry in the area of workplace safety is to be able to ensure no repetition of Rana Plaza-like incidents.

Moreover, the number of accidents decreased during the Accord and Alliance period.

However, according to the keynote, there is a slight increase in the number of industrial accidents in the RMG industry which was 177 in 2020, jumped to 180 in 2021, and to 241 in 2022.

The number of workers who died in workplace accidents in the RMG industry increased to 13 in 2021 from 2 in 2019 and 1 in 2020; however, it again decreased to 4 in 2022.

In response to a question, Golam Moazzem said that they are not talking about bringing back the Accord.

“We're talking about RSC to keep up with the reputation that the Accord has served with and the RSC. Standards and compliance are the real matter here as the accidents have started to increase again, if proper monitoring can’t be ensured now, the risk of accidents will increase in the coming days,” he added.

In response to the question of why the finance of brands in RSC is decreasing, he said that brands usually finance in these cases as part of CSR.

However, if these activities are carried out for a long time, there may be obstacles from their shareholders.

Regarding DIFE, CPD experts said 30% of factory owners complained that they had to pay extra money to DIFE and manufacturers of many compliant factories are not happy about their activities.

Responding to another question, he said that only 54% of factories have been remediated under the National Initiative, though none of them are 100%.

In the recommendation, CPD said that DIFE should continue to strengthen its technical and institutional capacity.

Moreover, the RSC should ensure regular follow-up inspections, especially after any incidents occur in the factories under its coverage.

Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the CPD, moderated the event.

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