Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | ePaper

Move about replacing garment monitoring agencies

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BGMEA leaders have decided not to extend agreement with Accord and Alliance - two buyers assigned inspection agencies to monitor remediation of garment factories in Bangladesh beyond their tenure set to expire by June 2018. It appears the leaders of the apex trade body has rightly identified that both the organizations have almost completed the inspection and remediation process of Bangladesh garment factories that led to upgradation of fire safety and improvement in working condition. It is time a new local agency to be set up soon to take up their task.

We appreciate the leadership that both the organizations offered to modernize Bangladesh's garment industry and they would now agree that their responsibility might be handed over to a local body to carry out the job.  The new organization to be known as 'Shomman' or respect will be registered under an appropriate law to be run under the guidance of an ombudsman chosen by the Prime Minister's Office. BGMEA leaders said it would have a steering committee with representatives from industry owners, the ILO, international brands and local trade unions, in addition to Commerce and Labour Ministries. All decisions would be on consensus basis and neither the government nor the BGMEA would have any veto power.

The new organization will replace Accord engaged by European buyers and Alliance looking after the concerns of North American buyers. The new move has apparently come as BGMEA sees the garment sector has achieved significant progress under the inspection and guidance of the two organizations and it is time that local manufacturers should take up the leadership to carry out their own remediation as part of a continuing process. BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman made those disclosures to The New Nation Tuesday explaining the transformation that the garment industry has already achieved to satisfy buyers concerns.  

Agreements were signed with the two organizations after the devastating fire at Rana Plaza in April 2014 followed by another big fire at Tazren Fashions in November 2013. In the first incident over 1100 garment workers perished while at Tazren Fashions several dozens workers were killed that created outcry in European and American buyers. They came under serious protest from rights groups to stop buying garments from Bangladesh tainted by workers sweat and blood.

The two organizations carried out inspection and remediation in several thousand factories and closed a number of them, which failed to fulfil the compliance. BGMEA believe presence of both the inspection organizations will be no more required as local capacity building has made significant progress to replace their functions. It is also expensive and often abusive and their function be otherwise planned by local bodies. Industries are subject to renovation and modernization. This is a constant process and we believe BGMEA will become successful in their new move.

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