Accord hearing deferred till April to allow ‘negotiation’ talks

BDApparelNews Desk
18 February 2019  

File photo of Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Photo Courtesy: Dhaka Tribune

File photo of Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Photo Courtesy: Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh Accord’s issue of extension has been deferred yet again by Bangladesh’s Supreme Court to allow time to chalk out a negotiation with the government.

Further hearing has been slated for April 7 after a short hearing on February 18, 2019 at the four-member Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain.

The bench concluded within five minutes of hearing after state counsel Additional Attorney General Murad Reza moved a time prayer saying “a negotiation is underway”.

The apex court fixed April 7 for further hearing of a leave-to-appeal petition filed by Accord challenging a previous directive that asked the agency to stop activities post November 30.

The issue of Accord, a European agency for factory inspection and remediation, has been hanging on the Supreme Court for an extension beyond its five-year operation term.

Previously, the hearing was deferred at the Supreme Court for three times on December 6, December 10, and January 21.

BANGLADESH UNDER INT’L PRESSURE

International pressure has been mounting on Bangladesh over the Accord issue with several stakeholders pressing local authorities to let Accord continue operation.

Last week, Accord called out to Bangladesh government and the apparel body leaders to let it have more time for what it said to make a prepared transition of their work to local authorities – the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC).

Also last week, a group of 190 investors representing over US$3 trillion in assets, gave out a statement and even wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the same cause.

Also, Clean Clothes Campaign has been spearheading global protests demanding an extension to Accord with #RanaPlazaNeverAgain. They have called upon global partners to coerce action against Bangladesh on the Accord issue.

There has been protests in front of Bangladesh’s embassies around the world for the cause including in the United States, United Kingdom, and Netherlands.

THE TUSSLE WITH ACCORD

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.

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.

According to court proceedings, the government wants to impose an 8-point set of condition on the Accord – what international rights groups say will strip its independence.

Up until now, the government was adamant on getting rid of Accord before international community united against the imposition and raised its voice against it.

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.