Chunnu against extending Accord, Alliance tenure

Dhaka,  Fri,  22 September 2017
Published : 16 May 2017, 00:07:05

Chunnu against extending Accord, Alliance tenure

Remediation Coordination Cell starts journey
FE Report

The tenure of western retailers' platforms--Accord and Alliance---need not be extended after their expiry in mid-2018 as remediation in their listed factories are nearing completion.

State minister for labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu said this while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) in a city hotel on Sunday.

Appreciating the remediation progress in Accord and Alliance's listed factories, he said, "I think, there is no need to extend the tenure of Accord and Alliance. They can work under the RCC by sharing their knowledge and expertise."

He expressed hope that the newly-formed RCC will be able to look into the workplace safety issues in the country's readymade garment sector as all the concerned government agencies including the Fire Service and RAJUK are part of the framework.

The RCC has been established through the collaboration of the government, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) while trade unions and international buyers have been consulted about its development.

The initiative is supported by the ILO with funding from Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Officials said the RCC will be staffed and supported by seconded members of the regulatory bodies including the Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishments, Fire Service and Civil Defence, RAJUK, Chief Electrical Inspector and Public Works Department. Private sector engineers hired to provide technical expertise for remediation follow up will extend support.

"The government of Bangladesh is fully committed towards ensuring safety of the garment industry and the people work for it. The remediation of all garment factories must be completed as quickly as possible and the RCC will make a major contribution to this goal," the state minister said.

Explaining the slow remediation progress in garment factories under national initiative, he urged the development partners and ILO to arrange financial support for those units to expedite their post-inspection remedial works.

Echoing the state minister, BGMEA president Md Siddiqur Rahman said 75 per cent and 73 per cent remediation of Accord and Alliance-listed factories have already been completed although the industry believes the percentage should actually be 90.

"The remaining part will be done by 2018 and the RCC will be able to look into the safety issues in the existing and new garment factories," he said, adding, the government has a policy of zero tolerance regarding the safety issues as the ongoing safety measures have changed the mindset of entrepreneurs.

Bangladesh Employers' Federation (BEF) president Salahuddin Kasem Khan stressed fair price and fair trade in the RMG supply chain for ensuring decent work and wages for workers.

ILO Bangladesh country director Srinivas Reddy said, "The operation of the RCC marks a major step towards improving workplace safety in Bangladesh's garment sector. It is a concrete manifestation of efforts to institutionalise safety reforms which will ultimately benefit all sectors."

Ambassador of the Netherlands to Bangladesh Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh Benoît-Pierre Laramée, labour secretary Mikail Shipar, inspector general of the Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishments Shamsuzzaman Bhuiyan,  BKMEA 1st vice-president Aslam Sunny, member secretary of  the NCCWE Chowdhury Ashiqul Alam and Industriall Bangladesh Council  Kutubuddin Ahmed, among others, spoke.

The foreign diplomats stressed transparent and effective function of the RCC to build its image and acceptance among all.

Initially, the RCC will work with 1,293 factories. However, this number will change as new factories are set up and enter the National Initiative or as factories exit the two other inspection initiatives overseeing remediation - the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.

In addition to overseeing the remediation process, the RCC will contribute towards building the capacity of regulators as well as further collaboration between them. As the work of the RCC progresses, it is planned to establish a long-term, coordinated approach to safety inspections and licensing.

This, according to the officials, may see the RCC evolve into an industrial safety unit or agency that provides a 'one-stop-shop' service issuing factory building, fire, electrical and occupancy permits.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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