Accord calls out to BD govt for time to make prepared transition

BDApparelNews Desk
15 February 2019  

Tied in a legal battle over extension, Bangladesh Accord has called out for more time from the government for what it says to make a prepared handover of their work to local authorities.

Without a prepared transition, Bangladesh’s apparel industry will place itself in danger of a reverse the positive impacts brought in the sector of safety for the past five years, says Accord in a statement released to the media on February 14, 2019.

“It also jeopardises their international business customers from bulding and perpetuating transparent and reliable human rights due diligence responsibilities,” the statement read.

“The Accord expresses deep concerns regarding the lack of progress in discussions with the government and BGMEA on Accord’s operations and transition of Accord’s work to the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC),” the statement read.

Accord says, despite the lack of preparedness of the Remediation Coordination Cell, the government and apparel leaders have taken the position of a must end after the office term. It adds, the government’s claims of capacity of RCC to undertake safety and health work of 1,700 Accord covered factories is not supported by evidence.

“The unwillingness of the government and BGMEA to negotiate with the Accord on a responsible and sustainable transition plan is bringing significant risk to the reputation of the Bangladesh RMG industry, which will have associated damaging consequence.”

We call upon the government and BGMEA to jointly work with the Accord in these efforts so that the Appellate court can be informed accordingly; so that unwelcomed, negative attention to Bangladesh’s apparel industry can be averted,” it said.

ACCORD’S LEGAL TANGLE

Accord’s five-year-term to remediate Bangladesh’s apparel factories ended in November 30. Since then, the third-party platform of European buyers and retailers were seeking an extension.

READ MORE: Accord's next hearing Feb 18

With the government and apparel industry leaders unwilling to let it stay in Bangladesh any longer, things rolled on to the court, and gradually the Supreme Court.

Accord’s next hearing at the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court will be held at February 18. This was a third-time deferral of Accord’s extension issue at the apex court after the European agency’s five-year term expired on November 30 and its bid to remain beyond the stipulated time period was turned down in the High Court.

After things rolled over to the Supreme Court, the hearing was deferred on December 6 and December 10 previously.

INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE MOUNTING

International pressure has been mounting on Bangladesh government over the issue of Accord, which conducts inspection and remediation activities for more than 200 global clothing retailers and brands.

Several rights groups and institutions, including the European parliament, have voiced out against the “stripping of independence” of Accord and called out to Bangladesh government to allow it to continue its reform work.

READ MORE: How int’l pressure is mounting

International rights groups are campaigning with the tag #RanaPlazaNeverAgain, promoting that Bangladesh’s factories will become unsafe once again if Accord leaves.

BANGLADESH ‘HAS HAD ENOUGH’

In the meanwhile, Bangladesh’s government and its apparel industry is openly frustrated over the dillydallying and wants Accord gone from the country.

Several industry stakeholders, including top officials from trade groups, told Bangladesh Apparel News that Accord forced many industries to undergo expensive remediation work – costing from US $2 million to US $10 million – for each of the remediated factories.

Now, after such expensive remediation works, the buyers, though are happy with the compliance works, are not paying fair sum to recover some of the costs, one top official of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) told Bangladesh Apparel News on anonymity.

Bangladesh’s government officials have repeatedly lambasted Accord for seeking extension. Actions of Accord – on the note of terminating ties with over 500 factories for noncompliance – have been highly criticised.