Analysis: Terms of extension to strip independence of Accord?

BDApparelNews Desk
19 May 2019  

Workers working at an aparel factory in Bangladesh.

Workers working at an aparel factory in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Accord has been allowed an extension by the Supreme Court to operate in Bangladesh well into 2020, ending the months of dillydallying at the apex court.

The extension granted is conditional, subjected to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Accord signed on May 8, 2019.

READ MORE: Accord to continue until 2020

Supreme Court allowed an extension to Accord for 281 working days, from the date of agreement, May 8, which will go well beyond February 2020. But, from now on, the extension offered is conditional and subjected to terms and condition of the agreement.

BGMEA’s lawyer Barrister Imtiaz Mainul Islam told Bangladesh Apparel News, that from now on there will be no single authority governing the remediation work of Accord. BGMEA and Accord will jointly work and continue the remediation work.

WHAT IS IN THE TERMS & AGREEMENT?

The agreement states that BGMEA will form a committee within the Accord which will gradually take over all safety related matters in the apparel industry in time.

READ MORE: Bangladesh not ready to take Accord's work

BGMEA calls the body ‘BGMEA Unit’, which will be formed immediately within the Accord’s Dhaka office, to ensure a smooth and gradual transition of Accord’s work.

For collaborative work and decision making, Accord has been handed a four-point guideline which it will follow to continue its operation in Bangladesh and gradually make transition of its work to the state-run Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC).

The four-point guidelines are:

1)    There will be no termination or escalation of any factory from Accord’s end without the agreement of the BGMEA Unit.
2)    ACCORD agreed that there will be no group termination in case of the failure of one factory.
3)    There will be no duplication of inspection between the safety initiatives (RCC, ACCORD and Nirapon). This means that factories once inspected by ACCORD, Nirapon, RCC or any other inspecting authority will be considered as common standard.
4)    In case of any dispute between BGMEA unit and ACCORD, the matter will be referred to RCC for final settlement.

WHAT IS THE PLAN OF BGMEA?

BGMEA plans to form what it calls a ‘RMG Sustainability Council’ (RSC), which will take over all safety-related and remediation-related work in the apparel industry, says a press release issued by the BGMEA on May 19, 2019.

The body, jointly governed by BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), brands, and workers’ representatives, will take over the structure, operation, and resources of Accord as it phases out.

During the transition period, the ‘BGMEA Unit’ within Accord will help constitute the ‘RMG Sustainability Council’ and gradually assist in transition work.

BGMEA says, the agreement focuses on the importance of a full and independent national compliance monitoring system in Bangladesh. “The MoU marks a departure from the past unilateral framework and establishes the route to self-monitoring.”