Retail apparel brands speak out in support of Accord

BDApparelNews Desk
12 April 2019  

Photo Courtesy: Accord

Photo Courtesy: Accord

Retail apparel brands have spoken out in support of Accord at the cusp of its extension facing a decider at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.

A number of clothing companies that signed the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile, are actively speaking out in favor of preserving the Accord, said a press release of IRBC Agreements issued on April 11, 2019.

Apparel rights group Clean Clothes Campaign has published an overview of 27 retail brands that have actively shown support for the Accord.

The group includes CKT-signatories We Fashion, G-Star, Esprit, C&A, Fristads, Schijvens, Yongo, Hema, and Hunkemöller, the release said.

"The Accord is an essential foundation of our cooperation with business partners in Bangladesh. There is still a need of improving fire and building safety in Bangladesh,” Esprit said in its statement as published by Clean Clothes.

"We want to complete the remediation [at our factories] because we recognise there is no adequate structure in place to regulate safety in Bangladesh. Brands and their consumers cannot forget about Rana Plaza and we strongly believe in the workers' rights to have a safe workplace and to refuse unsafe work,” said H&M, one of the biggest importers.

“Mutual collaboration and trust are the fundamental factors for the sustainability of the sector in Bangladesh and the best instrument to avoid any potential negative impact in the image of Bangladesh as a secure sourcing country for investment,” said Zara.

THE UPDATE ON ACCORD

The issue of Accord’s extension for operation has been yet again deferred at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh with the next hearing set for April 15.

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 four times on December 6, December 10, January 21 and February 18.

In the meantime, Accord has written a letter to the government seeking an extension and placing a bid to work together for safety at the apparel factories.

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.

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

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.