The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) have agreed to establish a new workplace compliance-and-safety-monitoring body that will take over the infrastructure, operations and staff of the Accord as it transitions out of Bangladesh over the next several months.
The Ready-made Garment Sustainability Council (RSC), which the Accord called an “unprecedented national initiative,” will bring together industry, brands and trade unions to promote unified industrial relations, skill development and environmental standards, while carrying forward the “significant accomplishments” made on workplace safety in the South Asian nation since the Accord’s formation in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, which killed 1,134 workers and injured thousands more just outside the capital of Dhaka.
Originally due to expire after five years, the pact received an extension after the Appellate Division of the Bangladesh Supreme Court approved in May a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Bangladesh Accord Steering Committee and the BGMEA to delay the Accord’s exit by 281 days.
As part of the handover, the parties will be jointly drafting a Memorandum & Articles of RSC and a Transition Agreement.
“The BGMEA and the Accord look forward to continuing the constructive discussions that took place over the last two days and commit to work together to ensure that RMG factories in Bangladesh are made safe and stay safe,” the organizations said in a joint statement.
The council will launch publicly on Nov. 15 and commence operations by Jan. 15.
Ready-made garments make up roughly 80 percent of Bangladesh’s export earnings, contributing almost 16 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Despite a reputation that has been marred by fires, building issues and demonstrations over poverty wages over the past few years, Bangladesh remains the world’s second-largest garment exporter after China and produces clothing for some of the biggest retailers in the world, including H&M, Uniqlo and Zara.