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Retailers Seek Bangladesh Accord, Alliance Extensions

After the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, two separate safety initiatives took on five-year projects aimed at improving conditions in the country’s ready-made garment sector. Now, it seems, some retailers are hoping the initiatives will stay beyond their terms.

H&M, a member of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh reportedly expressed interest in a three-year extension of the Accord beyond its 2018 end, citing concern that ongoing remediations won’t be completed in time, the Financial Express reported. Local garment manufacturers, however, weren’t in favor of the idea, preferring to shift to a single platform to maintain safety standards in the sector.

The BGMEA told Sourcing Journal earlier this year that instead of having multiple programs, like the Accord and Alliance, that it wants to work on one united initiative.

“The idea,” BGMEA vice president Mahmud Hasan Khan said, is that “there could be one platform. We don’t want so many things.”

According to the Financial Express, the BGMEA is proposing a single platform that would comprise representatives from labor rights groups, brands and retailers, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), BGMEA and the International Labour Organization—which would all be charged with overseeing workplace safety after 2018.

The Accord may be in talks to extend its program, but the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety is not.

When asked about it plans for post 2018, Ambassador James F. Moriarty, country director of the Alliance, told Sourcing Journal, “We are confident that all our planned work, including remediation, will be largely completed by 2018 and have no plans to extend.

“We don’t see 2018 as an end point but a continuing journey; factories must remain safe and that calls for a sustained culture of safety where workers are active participants and have a voice,” Moriarty added. “Our discussions with the key players in the RMG sector, including the Bangladesh government, are now focused on ensuring that the systems and organizations are in place to keep Bangladesh’s garment factories safe once our five-year commitment comes to a close in 2018.”

The BGMEA is expected to share its single platform proposal with other brands and retailers sourcing in the country to present at the Accord’s next Steering Committee meeting.

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