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4 Feb 2019

Aruna Kashyap, Human Rights Watch

Bangladesh’s garment factories must never become death traps again

"Bangladesh’s garment factories must never become death traps again", 1 February 2019

“We don’t want another Rana Plaza.” Those were the parting words when I spoke with a Bangladeshi garment worker who miraculously survived the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013...The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety was developed within a month. More than 200 brands - mostly European, including H&M, Inditex, C&A, and Esprit - signed the binding agreement...American brands created a non-binding parallel initiative, the Alliance on Worker Safety.

...[L]ast year, a Bangladeshi manufacturer, Smart Jeans Ltd., filed a court case challenging the Accord. In May, the Bangladesh High Court ruled against the Accord, saying its operations should be transitioned to the Bangladesh government by the end of November...The Accord appealed to the Supreme Court, seeking to extend its operations, as had been planned, until 2021...

If the Accord scales back its work before the government is ready to take on the monitoring and enforcement effort, it will be a disaster whose social and economic consequences are hard to predict...Bangladeshi manufacturers should gear up for massive drop in business...Many workers risk losing their jobs [and] working in factories that are not safe could mean many more avoidable worker deaths...

...[The] government, together with the Bangladesh’s powerful industry associations, had agreed in October 2017 that the Accord should extend its work till 2021. They should petition the Supreme Court...saying that this is in the best interest of workers, Bangladeshi manufacturers and global apparel brands...