Bangladesh’s factories must never become death traps again: HRW

BDApparelNews Desk
5 February 2019  

Protests outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London to express solidarity with Bangladesh`s apparel workers and Accord. Photo Courtesy: Labour Behind the Label

Protests outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London to express solidarity with Bangladesh`s apparel workers and Accord. Photo Courtesy: Labour Behind the Label

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has extended support to Bangladesh's apparel industry's third-party compliance regulator Accord.

In an article published on February 1, 2019, the global rights group urged Bangladesh government to extend support towards Accord in the report titled 'Bangladesh's garment factories must never become death traps again'.

Alleging that building the capacity of Remediation Coordination cell will take years, it recommended that the government allow Accord to operate until 2021.

"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government, together with the Bangladesh’s powerful industry associations, had agreed in October 2017 that the Accord should extend its work till 2021," the report said.

"They should petition the Supreme Court, showing their unconditional support for the Accord, saying that this is in the best interest of workers, Bangladeshi manufacturers and global apparel brands," it said.

"It is in the Accord’s interest to work with the Bangladesh government, industry associations, unions, and local groups to put together a sustainable exit plan."

Everyone agrees that the success of the Accord will depend on a legacy of lasting and credible systems. It cannot just be a brief fairy tale that ends in a nightmare. No one wants another Rana Plaza," it concluded.

GLOBAL CAMPAIGN FOR ACCORD

The world has been campaigning to allow an extension to Accord, the platform whose extension after a five-year stipulated period is hanging at the Supreme Court.

Up until the latest of Accord’s extension case in Bangladesh’s Supreme Court, the hearing has been postponed till January 21, 2019 for further hearing. Previously, Accord had sought for multiple adjournments seeking time to place arguments before the court.

Bangladesh has stated that it wants Accord to follow an eight-point charter if it seeks an extension. While Bangladesh Apparel News was denied access to the set of conditions by either parties, Clean Clothes Campaign says it will strip Accord of its independency.

However, Accord has been able to garner international support in the likes of European parliament and several rights groups like Clean Clothes Campaign and Labour Rights Forum. They are now creating pressure on Bangladesh to allow Accord to operate independently.

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.