Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building safety to cease operations in country by end of Nov 2018 unless govt. grants extension

Bangladesh Accord

Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety was launched by trade unions and brands in May 2013 following the Rana Plaza factory building collapse the previous month that killed over a 1,100 workers. It is a legally binding agreement designed to build a safe and healthy Bangladeshi Ready Made Garment (RMG) Industry.  Further information about the Accord can be found here

There was an initial agreement to extend the Accord beyond its inital 5 year term for another 3 years, the "Transition Accord".  However, a restraining order was issued by the High Court in Bangladesh in April 2018 on the Transition Accord. The result of this was that after 30th November the Accord could no longer operate.

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15 May 2019

Bangladesh: Report finds Accord's independent complaint mechanism protects workers & allows for access to remedy

Author: International Labor Rights Forum

"Calling for Remedy", 15 May 2019

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh... has an accessible, rights-based and confidential complaint mechanism, which functions in tandem with the independent inspectorate...

This report analyzes the structure and procedures of the Accord’s complaint mechanism, worker and union complaints received by Accord staff, Accord responses, and resolutions reached. Additionally, it draws on worker interviews... [W]e find that the Accord’s complaint mechanism:

  • Is an independent and responsive avenue through which garment workers in Bangladesh are regularly raising concerns of safety violations.
  • Provides responsive and meaningful action and is successful at securing remediation...
  • Ensures that workers are able to exercise their right to refuse dangerous work.
  • Protects workers from retaliation.
  • Provides apparel brands and retailers with knowledge of factory-level issues that would otherwise go undetected and unreported, allowing them to remediate.
  • Provides transparency by publicly reporting on all complaints received, with details about their current status and resolution.
  • Reduces potential gender bias in worker access...

An essential policy of the Accord complaint system is a commitment... to always take action when retaliation against workers who raise health and safety concerns is brought to its attention. Without intervention mandated by the Accord, many workers who were fired after raising the alarm over risks and hazards they perceive would not have been rehired...

The success of the Accord’s independent complaint mechanism is one of several reasons why the work of the Accord should be allowed to continue until credible alternatives for all aspects of its work are in place.

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2 April 2019

Bangladesh: Report finds 'shocking level of unreadiness' by govt. to take over Accord's work

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Maquila Solidarity Network, & Worker Rights Consortium

"Bangladesh Government's Safety Inspection Agencies Not Ready to Take Over Accord's Work", 1 April 2019

The government of Bangladesh is using proceedings before the Supreme Court of Bangladesh to prevent the Accord on Fire and Building Safety from operating, thereby putting workers’ safety at risk. A ruling on 7 April 2019... could require the Accord to close its Dhaka office and operations without taking into account whether national agencies would be ready to take up the work.

The government... claim... [it] is ready to assume responsibility for the 1,688 factories under the Accord’s purview, but our research shows a shocking level of unreadiness. In particular, we find that:

  • ...government-run databases intended to provide information on the remediation of garment factories are inconsistent and fail to provide information on follow-up inspections.

  • Each of the 745 factories under the government’s inspection programme have yet to eliminate high risk safety hazards, all of which were identified between three and five years ago...

  • ...The Accord identified 114... critically unsafe factories, which it subsequently terminated from its inspection program. Today, half of these same facilities remain open under the government’s inspection program. There is no indication... that any safety improvements have been made to these factories...

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19 March 2019

Bangladesh: Garment workers filed record no. of complaints in 2018 signalling effectiveness of Accord, unions say

Author: Naimul Karim, Thomson Reuters Foundation

"Complaints about safety in Bangladesh factories hit a high in 2018", 19 March 2019

Garment factory workers in Bangladesh filed a record number of complaints about safety - 662 - last year, showing that a mechanism set up by European fashion brands to improve working conditions was proving effective, trade unions said...

The Accord said it had resolved about one-third of the complaints it had received - from physical abuse and sexual harassment to mandatory overtime and non-payment of maternity benefits. A similar number fell outside its mandate, it said.

The latest figures come as the Accord is battling to extend its stay in Bangladesh until 2021, as agreed by its signatories, when it will be replaced by a national regulatory body...

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19 February 2019

Bangladesh Accord ruling pushed back for sixth time

Author: Hannah Abdulla, Just-Style, UK

"Bangladesh Accord ruling pushed back for sixth time", 19 February 2019

A decision on the future of the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has been pushed back...with a hearing on the pact's continued operation now due to take place on 7 April...

The original five-year pact expired on May 2018, but was extended to complete remaining safety fixes while the Bangladesh government builds up its Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) as the national regulatory body to oversee workplace safety and remediation. 

But international stakeholders fear the RCC is not yet prepared to take on the responsibilities of the Accord's inpsection programme...They allege the government has stated the framework should be allowed to continue operations under a set of highly restrictive constraints that include prohibiting Accord inspectors from identifying any new safety violations in factories...

...[T]he Accord called [for] a "responsible and sustainable" transition plan...[Accord] claims it is "widely recognised"...that the RCC-DIFE remains "at its earliest stages of development and is not yet prepared to regulate building and occupational safety and health at its current base of RMG [ready-made garment] factories."...

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19 February 2019

Bangladesh: Accord submits 281-day plan with conditions for departure

Author: NewAge BD, Bangladesh

"Accord submits 281-day plan with conditions for departure", 12 February 2019

Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of European fashion brands and buyers, has submitted a working paper to the government setting a 281-working day plan for handover of the Accord-listed factories to a national body [the remediation coordination cell (RCC)]...Government officials said...the platform tagged with it a number of conditions that might hinder the implementation of the plan...

One of the government representatives to the committee said that the proposal was not logical as the implementation of the plan would take up to 14 months to meet the Accord-mentioned conditions.

He said that the labour ministry on Monday sent its reaction on the working paper to the Accord saying that it was possible to reduce the working days to 160 from 281.

...[T]he government recently formed a committee comprised of representatives of Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Accord signatories to finalise a time-bound transition plan for the retailers’ platform as per the instruction of the [Supreme Court]...

The tenure of the platform ended in May, 2018 and the government allowed it a six-month transition period [that] ended on November 30 last year...on January 21 this year, Supreme Court granted four weeks of additional time (up to February 18) to the Accord to continue the ongoing discussions with Bangladesh government and BGMEA over supports for the [RCC] and transition of Accord works to RCC.

Labour ministry officials said that to finalise the transition plan within the four weeks granted by Supreme Court, the working committee proposed Accord representatives sit with it on February 14 but the platform was yet to confirm.

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18 February 2019

Bangladesh: Decision on Accord's future postponed again, to 7 April

Author: The Daily Star

"Accord's hearing deferred till Apr 7", 18 February 2019

Bangladesh’s Supreme Court today extended the tenure of Accord, a European agency for factory inspection and remediation, till April 7...

Additional Attorney General Murad Reza moved the time petition saying a negotiation is going on between the government and Accord...


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13 February 2019

Bangladesh: Global investors release public statement in support of Accord

Author: ICCR & other global investors

A group of 190 global investors representing over $US 3 trillion in assets under management today released a statement urging the Bangladesh government not to abandon the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) until such time as the government is fully capable of continuing its work to ensure the safety of the over 1,600 factories and 2 million garment workers currently covered by the Accord. A separate letter, reiterating this request was also sent to Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. 

The statement is in direct response to the Government’s submission to the Supreme Court regarding the Accord’s appeal against an order that it cease operating in Bangladesh from November 30, 2018... This group of investors has consistently supported the Accord throughout its 5-year mandate...

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13 February 2019

Bangladesh: ICCR sends letter to PM in support of Accord

Author: Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility has sent a letter to Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, reiterating the request made by a group of 190 investors in a statement not to abandon the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. 

Download the full document here

6 February 2019

Bangladesh: Commerce minister calls for global brands to pay 'fair prices' for apparel to meet increasing cost of production

Author: The Daily Star

"Minister seeks fair prices for apparel", 6 February 2019

Bangladesh demanded fair prices for garment items from the US retailers and brands as the local apparel exporters spent billions of dollars to strengthen workplace safety that increased the cost of production. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi made the call during a meeting with US Ambassador in Bangladesh...

“The cost of production has increased by 25 percent to 30 percent over the last five years due to remediation of the garment factories as per the recommendations of the Accord and Alliance, two foreign agencies for building inspection.”..

The minister said, for instance, the t-shirt which was supposed to be produced at a cost of $1 earlier now costs as high as $1.25 or $1.30 a piece. “So, we can demand around 25 percent to 30 percent rise in the price of garment items now.”

“We will hold a meeting with the CEOs of almost all major retailers and brands like Walmart, Inditex, Target and Primark soon to urge them to increase the prices of garment items as we spent a lot of money to fix the loopholes in the factories,” the minister said.

Munshi also said the buyers always demand higher compliance at the factory level, but they do not want to increase the prices of the products...

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5 February 2019

Bangladesh: Commerce Minister seeks ILO’s help for fair price of ready-made garments

Author: Mehedi Hasan, The Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh

"Commerce minister seeks ILO’s help for fair price of RMG items", 3 February 2019

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi yesterday urged the International Labour Organization (ILO) to play a role in raising the price of Bangladesh of readymade garment (RMG) items...

He said owners had to spend huge amount of money for modernization and safety work in RMG factories after the Rana Plaza incident, and implementation of new wages also pushed the expenditure further, but “buyers of RMG items have not increased the price in accordance with it”.

[The Minister] said Bangladesh’s RMG sector has reached this stage after overcoming adverse situations and the government is working sincerely to ensure reasonable wages to labourers...The ILO country director said that Bangladesh’s labour industry has attained visible development and hoped this progress will continue in future.

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