RMG linkage up for compliance too

Dhaka,  Mon,  29 May 2017
Published : 12 May 2017, 23:49:03
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RMG linkage up for compliance too

RMG linkage up for compliance too
Monira Munni


Western retailers' platform Accord now moves to bring the garment-linkage industries, too, under its extended inspection purview to look into labour-right and safety issues.

Industry sources said the expansion of the scope of clean-up drive over entire spectrum of Bangladesh's export-oriented clothing industry comes in conjunction with the consumer-side coalition's plan for pronging its tenure for additional five years.

The backward-and forward-linkage industries up for compliance search are textile mills, spinning mills, leather and tanneries, factories making sheets, towels and other household textiles, and apparel-washing facilities.

Electrical and structural-integrity assessment in line with the much-orchestrated remediation operation kicked off in the readymade garment sector by two foreign coalitions against the backdrop of a few tragic incidents in factories.

Global-right groups, especially the witness signatories to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, want to expand the tenure of the platform over next five years to 2023, the sources said.

Their local affiliates, however, said the duration is yet to be fixed but they would like it to be three years.

"Such a renewal is essential to ensure that the gains achieved by the Accord are sustained and that the additional factories that come into the supply chains of Accord brands and retailers are properly inspected, with all hazards corrected and with full public reporting," according to the memo by the four witness signatories of Accord.

After four years of supporting the mission of the Accord as witness signatories, carefully examining the strengths and weaknesses of the Accord programme thus far, and consulting closely with their Bangladeshi union and NGO partners as well as Accord staff, they have developed a number of recommendations for enhancing the terms of the Accord, via the negotiation of a renewal of the agreement for 2018-2023, it added.

The signatories-Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF), Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and Marquila Solidarity Network (MSN)--issued the memo explaining the progress of Accord and proposing five years' (2018 to 2023) extension.

They also have made an-eight point recommendation for changes styled 'Accord II'.

The groups estimated that at least several hundred factory buildings are involved, most of them multi-story and most very likely burdened by the same safety deficiencies as the typical pre-Accord assembly facility.

"Applying the existing Accord inspection and remediation regime to these buildings is an opportunity to protect hundreds of thousands more at-risk workers," the coalition believes.

Centre for Policy Dialogue research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem says though there were some discomforts initially, the apparel-makers accepted the inspection framework and the western retailers' platform should prioritise completing the remaining works.

The tenure might be extended until the completion of ongoing safety activities and should conclude together activities of both the western retailers' platforms-Accord and Alliance-as they started almost the same time, he added.

If the Accord plans further initiative, it should be separate from the existing one and also the evaluation, he said explaining if a spinning mill is found non-compliant, it should not affect the end-supplier or garment-maker that uses the mill's products.

Accord and Alliance should support enhancing the public-sector capacity by rendering their expertise and technical know-how during their extension, he opined.

The apex trade body in RMG sector takes the fresh Accord move with a grain of salt, as its chief says local supervision of the conditions of the linkage industries is enough to set the matter straight.            

"Accord should not interfere into issues related to workers' rights as this is beyond their mandate which is only related to workplace safety. There is law of the country and ILO to look into the issues," Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Md Siddiqur Rahman told the FE.

Opposing inspection of backward-linkage industries by the western retailers' platform, he said local initiative should be enough to monitor safety in those units. Both the Accord and Alliance were formed under the Sustainability Compact and the government would decide whether it would allow extension or not, said Mahmud Hasan Khan, vice-president of BGMEA.

"There is no need to extend the western retailers' platform if the capacity of DIFE (Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments) has developed," he said.

The performance of DIFE could be reviewed year on year, he proposed.

    munni_fe@yahoo.com
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