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24 Mai 2019

Ruma Paul & Serajul Quadir, Thomson Reuters

Bangladesh: Unions share concerns over safety of workers under new Accord agreement

"Bangladesh garment unions say new factory oversight deal risks worker safety", 21 May 2019

 The end of an international arrangement aimed at ensuring the wellbeing of Bangladeshi garment workers is likely to undermine safety by making factory owners responsible for maintaining standards, trade union leaders said on Tuesday...

...On Sunday, a court approved a plan to transfer the factory oversight team that works under...the Accord...to a group led by the top garment manufacturer’s association.

But leaders of seven garment workers’ unions say they were not consulted on the arrangement, which they said could give too much power to the factory owners, who union leaders fear lack the incentive to invest in safety.

“This deal is sure to compromise the safety and security of garment workers given there will be no independent decision-making by the Accord,” said Babul Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation. "This was framed without any discussion with labour unions.”

Unions will decide this week on what action they might take to protest against the arrangement.

...Government officials say the Accord is no longer needed...the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC), is able to do the job.

But the Accord says the RCC is not yet to the task. “Our assessment is that currently the RCC isn’t yet ready to take over all of the functions and work of the Accord,” said Joris Oldenziel, a spokesman for the Accord.

The government said it will work toward ensuring factory safety even after the Accord exits. “There will be no lapses ... this is a question of existence,” said Mohammad Mofizul Islam, a commerce ministry official... 

...“We have a feeling that it may not be possible for others to repeat what the Accord has achieved in Bangladesh,” said Rani Khan, general secretary of another trade union, the Mukto Garment Sramik Federation.